15 Reasons To Travel While You’re Young + Thoughts on Traveling & Social Media

Travel

I got the travel bug from my grandmother, who has been to so many countries that she probably wouldn’t be able to count them if she tried. My grandma goes on at least one trip abroad a year and usually comes back with a very odd and very humorous souvenir for us. Every time I talked to my grandma when I was growing up, I was so amazed at how she would casually bring up some incredible trip she took.

I always wanted to be like her. She’s so well-traveled, cultured, and so interesting – and I’m not the only one who thinks that. She’s someone that everyone loves and is intrigued by the second they meet her. I remember after my friend Pat met her for the first time, he turned to me and said one of my favorite quotes of all time, “Heather, your grandma is dope!” She is a dope grandma indeed. 

She’s a lady who does whatever the hell she wants regardless of what other people think. One of my favorite things she’s ever said to me was, “I don’t think I want a boyfriend, that might cramp my style.” If there’s one person I want to be like when I grow up and one person I want to make proud of, it’s her. And one way I plan on doing that is by exploring as much of this miraculous planet as I can, just like her.

With no surprise, my grandma was incredibly supportive of my love for travel. Not only does she pass on her travel stories and experiences to me, but she’s funded several of my trips. She generously took me to Paris for two weeks for my Sweet Sixteen, paid for my month-long graduation trip through Europe, and took a spontaneous and impulsive trip with me to Niagara Falls this summer. 

Today, my grandma’s writing is tattooed on the side of my body. It reads, “A life full of travel and wonders of our planet.” It will remind me for the rest of my life to get out of my bubble and explore the world as much as I can.

Just like my grandma, I want to encourage others to explore too. To put their money towards a plane ticket instead of products. So here are the top reasons why I believe it’s important to travel while you’re young in hopes that I will inspire at least one person to buy a ticket!

1. Travel expands your mind

I know this is the very first thing that people usually say about travel, but you don’t realize how true it is until you’re sitting in some random spot on the other side of the planet having your mind blown. I remember watching an opera in Rome and seeing flamenco dancing in Spain. Those are two experiences that I will never forget because I was utterly amazed seeing this in person. All I could think of was, “WHAT?! This is a thing?! People actually do this?!” It’s incredible seeing someone who’s spent a lifetime perfecting some dance that you would have never even heard of before.

When you travel, especially for an extended period of time or with a group of strangers, you regularly have those moments where you’re shocked by what you’re seeing or how other people interact in different cultures. You experience and learn things that you wouldn’t have otherwise known until you went there yourself.

Sometimes it expands your mind to things that are unpleasant. On my graduation trip, I learned so much about the Holocaust and World War II after visiting Germany and seeing a concentration camp that I would have never have learned unless I had visited Germany and gone on local tours. It’s best to travel while you’re young for this reason because your brain is still developing so you’re still very impressionable. Expanding your worldview during this time is crucial because you’ll be more open-minded than you would be if you started traveling after retirement. It allows you to expand your world-view and shape new opinions before settling into your ways.

2. It gets you out of your comfort zone

When you go on a trip abroad, you encounter language barriers, you get lost, and you have awkward moments when you encounter customs that you aren’t familiar with. It makes you feel out of place and puts you far out of your comfort zone, which is a great thing!

Interestingly enough, something about traveling to a foreign country also makes you more willing to take risks and try things that you wouldn’t if you were at home. I remember what it was like going zip lining in Costa Rica with Matt or going on an ATV tour underneath a volcano. The Heather that lives in Florida and spends most of her time going to the same coffee shop to write every day would NEVER do those things. But whenever I go on a trip, I take advantage of experiences that I otherwise wouldn’t try or wouldn’t want to spend the money on. Travel makes you do things that you normally would hold yourself back from, but THOSE moments are the ones that you remember for the rest of your life and tell at parties (or on your Tinder dates, lol). 

3. You meet life-long friends 

Something about dropping everything and traveling to a foreign country with strangers makes you connect with them on a much deeper level. When you travel to a new country with someone, rely on each other to get around, experience new things together, and spend entire days making memories and opening up about your lives back home, you form a very powerful bond. 

It’s a connection that you wouldn’t have had with that person if you had just met at a coffee shop or a bar back home. You create life-long memories with that person, making you much closer together and creating a relationship that you’ll look back on for the rest of your life. For that reason, I know that whenever I reach out to the girls I went on my trip with that they will always be happy to hear from me and we’ll catch up as if no time had passed.

Case in point, I just got back from visiting Cincinnati last night and while I was there I got to see my Europe travel buddy, Emily. We were attached at the hip the entire time we were abroad and now I consider her to be one of the best friends I’ve ever had. She had just landed from New York City yesterday morning and raced to come visit me for the remaining hours I was still in Cincinnati. When we reunited we ran up to each other on the sidewalk, threw our arms around each other and hugged in the most dramatic, rom-com fashion.

4. Travel helps you discover what you really want

When I left for my month-long trip abroad, I was very unsure of what I wanted, but the week I came back, I could look at my life with such clarity. I’m not exactly sure why this happens. Maybe it’s because travel allows you to step away from your life’s problems and have some space so that you can look at things with fresh eyes when you come back. Or maybe it’s because travel changes you, so you come back a slightly different person than the one who left.

Whichever it is, all I know is that my questions and dilemmas I’d been struggling with for months had been resolved when I got back: Where should I live? What career should I pursue? What do I really want in life? What projects do I want to pursue?

I was also very surprised by the number of other people on my tour who were having some kind of life crisis or question that they were seeking the answer to while we were away. I wasn’t the only one who had been hoping to solve some problem or answer an important question. For example, I remember that a handful of people were very unsure about whether or not they wanted to stay with their significant other. They were trying to figure out if they saw themselves staying with this person long term after they returned home or if it was best to go their separate ways. The trip helped them answer their questions. I remember one of my friends even bought a journal so she could do stream of consciousness journaling about her relationship and that helped her gain so much clarity. If you’d like to learn more about stream of consciousness journaling, checkout my blog post, “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.”

5. Traveling while you’re young allows you freedom before you get tied down 

Yeah you could travel when you’re older, but you also have to consider that you’ll have a full-time job, extra bills, a mortgage payment, a dog that needs to be cared for, a significant other that doesn’t feel like traveling to the same country as you, kids, etc. I could go on and on with other reasons, but the point is that it won’t be as easy to drop everything and backpack your way through South America when you’re 35 or 40. It’s much easier to travel while you’re young because you’re not tied down to anything, and because it will be so much easier to hop back into your normal life without much of a disruption. For example, coming back from an extended holiday when you’re in your teens or early 20’s will have little to no impact on your career because it’s not already established. It’s expected that you’re still traveling, learning about what you want, and changing during this time.

You also have to consider that if you travel while you’re young, you only have to pay for yourself, not an entire family. It’ll cost far less money and you’ll be FAR more likely to actually do it. Simply put, you’ll never feel as free as you do RIGHT NOW.

6. You won’t regret it

You know that moment when you decide it’s freaking time to clean out your closet? Your clothes are overflowing, you can’t find anything, and you realize it’s that time of year to make some donations? You know how whenever this happens you inevitably find clothes in your closet that still have the tags on them and think, “Uggghhhh, why did I buy this!? That was such a waste of money!” Yeah, that doesn’t happen with travel.

I’ve never heard of anyone having buyer’s remorse over taking a trip. You won’t look back at your photos and memories of your summer abroad and think, “Ugggghhh, why did I do that?” “Why did I move to Paris for three months and work at that bakery? How stupid of me.” That just doesn’t happen. Traveling is one of the very few things in life that people spend their money on that they don’t regret. Sure, you might end up going over budget on your trip and be a little bit annoyed at yourself for spending so much. However, the feeling of regret will never enter your mind.

7. Travel makes you humble

The other reason why you should travel, especially while you’re young, is because it makes you humble. You’ll see people all around the world who are living with less than you and realize what little you need to take care of yourself and to be happy. I learned this lesson on my trip to Costa Rica. After coming back I wrote a blog post about this called “A Lesson in Pura Vida.”

I wrote about how I had noticed that the people in Costa Rica lived in what I can only describe as shacks. Their houses were made of tin and they had very few possessions and modern-day luxuries and conveniences. But they were the happiest and nicest people I have ever met in my life. Seriously! It was like they were all enlightened. They walked around with a huge smile on their face and saying hello to everyone. I could tell that they were happy and relaxed – not chronically stressed out. At the time, I went to a private college, drove an expensive car, lived in a gated community, and nannied for families who made over six figures. Yet none of the people that I was surrounded with were happy to be alive. They were stressed out, bitter, and materialistic. They were driven more by possessions and promotions than by anything else (I’m not claiming to be above this). However, these people in Costa Rica had next to nothing, and they were HAPPY. Very, very happy. That trip was humbling and made me reflect more on what’s important in life. 

The second reason why travel makes you humble is that you realize that you’re not the center of the universe. You’re dropped off at the airport in what sometimes feels like an alternate universe. You don’t understand the language or the way people are interacting with each other. Even though you know intellectually that there’s a wide world out there, you typically don’t think much about the world other than your own small existence. Then in the middle of all of this, you’re attending local tours and learning from someone about their political problems or issues that they face in the community. In these moments, it will hit you just how large the world is and how closed off you had been because these issues weren’t on your radar. For example, I didn’t know anything about the poverty rate in Costa Rica as I was going about my daily life in St. Augustine, Fla. It never occurred to me.

Lastly, if you’re traveling while you’re young you’ll most likely be staying in cheap accommodations, eating less expensive food, and finding experiences within your budget. You’re not rolling into your trip to the south of France in first-class seats, sipping champagne, eating caviar, and staying at 5-star hotels. You haven’t hit that age in life where you think, “Alright, I’m going on a trip. It must be luxurious.” No. You stay in hostels, you share bathrooms, you eat at places that are cheaper to accommodate everyone in your group, and you share cramped spaces on trains, planes, and automobiles. Having to be so accommodating with other people and share space is a humbling experience. 

I think that this is an important lesson to learn and it should be learned as SOON as possible. It’s better to become humble when you’re 20 rather than when you’re 45. It makes you a better person.

8. You’re in great shape

Some people decide that having a career and a family are the first priority to them and that travel is something that can wait until retirement, but I think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Because while you do want to make retirement fun and enjoyable, you also have to consider that you won’t be in as good of shape as you’re in when you’re a teenager or in your 20’s.

Your body can handle walking for miles to sightsee all day, hiking up mountains, getting less sleep, carrying a backpack all day, lugging your suitcase around, etc. The physicality of traveling alone just makes more sense to do while you’re young. And you never know what sort of health problems or limitations you might have in old age. 

9. Traveling empowers you

Before I left for my month-long trip to Europe, I was nervous as all hell. It also didn’t help that every person I talked to said something along the lines of, “Oh my God! Four weeks is SO long! I would never be able to do that. You’re crazy. You’re gonna want to come home by week two!”

I remember the night before I left I sat across from my boyfriend fighting off a panic attack for serval hours and drinking wine trying to calm myself down. The next day I was bawling while I was saying goodbye to Matt outside the airport! I. was. a. mess.

But when I landed in Florida after that month, I came back and thought “Oh my gosh! I freaking did it! That was awesome!” It’s a very powerful thing to see yourself doing something that you once considered to be scary. It helps you realize how much you’re capable of and gives you the confidence to take on new challenges or aspirations. Before I left for my trip, I thought a month would feel like forever and I might want to come home, but when I came home I realized that a month was nothing. I could easily take a trip for two, three, four, or even six months at a time. I realized that the fear that I had was all in my head. I set this limitation for myself that I now realize was completely ridiculous. 

10. You can handle cheap accommodations

I’ve noticed that as you get older, the accommodations that you feel you deserve continue to increase in cost. I know that I was going on a trip to a foreign country right now, I would be perfectly ok in cheaper hotels that my older family members wouldn’t even consider staying in. I don’t feel as if I’m somehow deserving of first-class tickets, 5-star hotels, and a luxurious mattress to sleep on. Those things would be fabulous and I would be appreciative of it, but I feel perfectly ok with slumming it a bit to check countries off of my bucket list.

However, it’s not just that as you get older you feel entitled to better accommodations, your body also needs them. I’m 24 now, and I know that my body can handle sleeping on crappy mattresses and taking a 10-hour plane ride in super small airplane seats. But if I was 70 years old right now, that wouldn’t work. I wouldn’t be able to bounce back as well as I can right now. That’s something you also have to keep in mind.

11. You’ll come back with TONS of stories 

The best part of spending your money on traveling is that you come back with tons of stories and memories that stay with you forever. Half the time they’re stories of something wonderful and exciting that you experienced – like when I learned how to make homemade pasta while I tasted wines in Rome (it was Amazing with a capital A). Or sometimes they’re stories of something bad or scary that happened on your trip – like when two of my friends Martha and Emily had a near-death experience during the riots in Paris after the World Cup Final. But even the “bad” memories end up turning into hilarious stories that you get to share and laugh about when you get back home.

It’s been over a year since I went on my tour and I still find myself saying, “That reminds me! When I was on my trip…” I didn’t even realize how many interesting things happened until I came back and would have conversations with people and it would remind me of some experience that I had in Amsterdam, France, or London. I still love telling the story of what it was like experiencing the World Cup Final while I was in Paris or celebrating my sixteenth birthday in Paris which coincidentally is the same day as the French Independence Day. 

12. You’ll have help

One of the added benefits of traveling while you’re young is that you’ll most likely be able to convince mom and dad or grandma and grandma to help you fund your trip. That’s one of the best parts of traveling while your young because you’re family members are eager to help you out financially so that you can make some memories and have a good time. I’m now past the point where my family is jumping up and down to help me pay for a trip, so take advantage of the help while you can!

On top of that there are tons of tours that are cheaper and cater to teens and young adults with a smaller budget but still want to see as many sights as they possibly can. I personally am in love with the tour company EF Tours. I’ve been on two of their trips so far and have loved every minute of it. They get you to all of the attractions, book your flights and hotels for you, hire a tour guide to take you from place to place, and plan fun excursions. They’re also relatively cheap because they use the same hotels, hostels, tour companies, and local business so frequently that they are able to get everything cheaper than it would be if you went on your own. 

You also have the benefits of student discounts, so remember to bring your ID with you and ask if you can use it wherever you go! These perks make traveling while you’re young much easier because the total cost of the trip will be significantly less than you would pay in the future if you decide to take the same trip. 

13. It makes you more independent 

When you’re younger, if you’re anything like me, you may a bit timid and shy. This means that having to get around for the day in a foreign country by yourself can be a bit nerve-wracking, but those moments of travel are good for you, even if they’re a bit unsettling.

I remember there was one day when I was in Paris and everyone that I was friends with on my tour decided that they wanted to spend the day at Chipotle and relaxing in the hostel. I thought this was absolutely crazy. “We’re in PARIS guys! You can have a burrito bowl when you get home!” So I had no choice but to go off by myself if I wanted to do anything interesting. At first I was completely terrified and scared of being alone. What if I got lost and couldn’t find my way back?! But I ended up walking all around Paris and seeing the entire city. I saw the major attractions and went to places like the oldest bookstore in the city to buy a book and tried the best hot chocolate in Paris. I got pictures EVERYWHERE, ate as many macaroons as I could get my hands on, and ended the night watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle. It ended up working out perfectly because I was able to do so much more that day than I would have done if I was with a group of 5 or 6 girls. And I realized that I’m much more independent and capable than I thought. I was so proud of myself by the end of the day and so fulfilled by getting around a foreign city all by myself that it became one of the most memorable days of the tour. 

14. Travel makes you more accepting of others

Another reason why I believe that it’s vitally important to travel while you’re young is because it makes you much more accepting of other people.

I feel that today, we need this lesson more than ever. There’s been so much hatred in America fueled by the media in recent years. Mostly because media channels learned that they can make money by pinning people against each other and because this last presidential election was “harrible.” Hugely, “biggly,” and catastrophicly “harrible.”

Because of this we’ve become accustomed to getting offended if someone has a different opinion or experience than us and rejecting them. Our country has been in a place where all people do is fight and hate people who are different. It’s especially toxic for all of the younger generations who are impressionable and mimic the behavior they see while growing up. And I’m not just talking about children. I’m talking about the teens and college students (like myself) that watched all the adult figures in their lives turn against each other for a solid year because of this last poisonous election.

My concern is that if THIS is how people feel about other American citizens than what is our perspective of the rest of the world’s population? If we can’t even learn to live in harmony with our neighbors, how do plan on having successful international relations? Today more than ever, I feel it’s important for people to get outside of their own inner circle and learn about the rest of the world. To learn about different cultures and different views, but most importantly learn that we can all be accepting and COEXIST.

I can hear my grandma in my head right now saying her famous line, “Haven’t people ever heard of the word HUMAN?! We’re all HUMAN!”

15. “Life is short and the world is wide.” – Simon Raven

Last but not least on my list of why it’s important to travel while you’re young is that there’s a HUGE world out there and life is short. Not to end on a morbid note, but a long life is not guaranteed to any of us. You have no idea what could happen in the future. I would love it if the universe would grant each and every one of us a long, healthy, and happy life, but it doesn’t work that way. People get sick and accidents happen. It’s best to fill your life with the experiences that you dream of while you can instead of putting things off for a perpetual “someday.” “Someday I’ll rent an RV and travel around the country.” “Someday I’ll see the seven wonders of the world.” “Someday I’ll go to Thailand.”

Someday is not set in stone. Someday is not promised. 

Traveling & Social Media 

Before I wrap up this post, I didn’t feel as if I could close up this week’s blog post without mentioning social media (particularly Instagram) and traveling. It felt irresponsible to share this post without addressing the problem of people traveling solely for getting attention and become famous online.

One of my favorite travel bloggers and Instagram influencers is Aggie, better known as “Travel In Her Shoes.” She’s someone who became very famous for her love of travel. She would travel for months and months at a time before she even was on Instagram and would take photos just for herself. She lived a very traditional life as most of us do for a while. She went to college, graduated, got a corporate job and was MISERABLE. So Aggie and her boyfriend at the time decided that they wanted to live a life of adventure and passion. They bought an old sailboat online, sold all of their possessions, fixed up the boat, and set sail from Mexico to Australia. Their story got picked up and since that day she’s made a career of her traveling and living the life that many of us can only dream of.

But Aggie recently opened up in a social media post this week about a topic that I believe needs to be talked about. Her Instagram post was inspired by a recent Ted Talk given by Joseph Gordon-Levitt on “paying attention” vs. “getting attention.” The talk is called “How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative.” The Ted Talk is amazing and I HIGHLY recommend watching it as soon as you can. He talks about how (as a result of social media) most people today now view their creativity as a means to GET attention rather than paying attention, enjoying yourself, and collaborating with other creatives.

Aggie shared that traveling used to be very much about paying attention. It was a way to get out of your small little bubble, disconnect with family and friends, find yourself, and fall in love with another country. She admits that now, due to social media and influencers like herself, traveling has become a way to GET attention. “[People] sign up for a sort of their own Truman Show,” as she puts it. They get addicted to waking up each day and getting attention from their followers as they post gorgeous travel photos and share their stories. Because of that, they’re afraid to go back to their normal lives. They’re afraid that if they do, they will be forgotten and won’t receive praise from their online following. And that’s exactly what happened to her. The addiction to keep showing up, traveling, and getting attention is what caused her a falling out with the man she was in love with, getting extremely sick this year, losing her hair, and falling into a depression. Since then, she’s taken a step back and slowed down on traveling and focused on herself more.

I want to talk about this issue because the sad truth is that many people today travel just as a way to get likes and followers. People sign up for trips, buy expensive clothes for their photos, and spend their entire vacation staring at their phone. I can’t say that I’m above this myself. I will admit, my motto was “do it for the gram” for several years there, and my travels were a part of that too. But that’s NOT what travel is about. Travel should be about the reasons I listed above, not to become the next big travel blogger or YouTuber! It defeats the entire purpose of travel. So if you are going to book your next flight, remember that exploring the world is about the reasons I listed above, not about the social media posts that will come as a result. Travel is about PAYING attention, not GETTING attention.

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for coming to Lost Online! I hope that this post was entertaining and I hope that it inspired someone out there to go on an adventure. If it does, PLEASE reach out to me!

A special shout out to one of my Gram (who is somewhere in Morocco right now living her best life) for being my role model, for passing on her travel bug to me, and helping me to come up with ONE more reason for traveling while you’re young (just because I liked the sound of “15 Reasons” more than “14 Reasons).” Not only is she the source of inspiration for this week’s blog post, but she’s also my #1 supporter and reader. Hi Gram (: I love you very much.

Lastly, please send your thoughts and prayers to my incredible friend and photographer Ray Reyes and his family who lost his father, Edd Reyes, very suddenly last week. You can read Ray’s most amazing, tear jerking words about his father’s life in his Facebook post here. And thank you for your patience as there’s been a delay in getting blog posts published at this time. But as we all know, family is more important.

“Time is the most precious commodity we can share with our loved ones. With time, you can do all you need to do and say all you need to say. But you can’t wait forever, because time has already passed, the time is absolutely now and we have no idea how much time we have in our futures.” – Ray Reyes

Remember to comment your thoughts below. I love hearing from you! Can you think of any other reasons why Lost Online readers should prioritize traveling while they’re young? What are they? Did you have a favorite reason on this list? What was it? Do you have a travel bug too? Where’s your next adventure going to take you? Did this post inspire you to take a trip anytime soon? Do you have a family member that has been influential in your travels too?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto and Allen Fajardo @alewafeni.

This Day Could Have Gone Much Differently: A School Shooting During My Therapy Session

Lifestyle

On Wednesday, Aug. 21, I had a really busy day. I was working on things from home and was jam-packed with tons of projects for my website and YouTube Channel. So much that I had hardly eaten all day and I still wanted to go to the gym that evening. My boyfriend Matt suggested, “Why don’t you go out and get a smoothie? You can walk down to RawkStar, get a smoothie, and walk back. It’ll be nice.” So I decided that was a great idea. I put on my shoes, grabbed my bag and was about to walk out the door when I realized my phone was about to die. I stopped for a second and thought about leaving it behind while I walked down the street to grab a smoothie. I would just be down the road and would only be without it for about 20 minutes. But I didn’t want to do that. I put my phone on the charger and sat back down on the couch with my computer ready to work some more.

Now, you might be thinking it’s because I’m a sad millennial that can’t stand the thought of being separated from my phone for more than 5 minutes. But that’s not why I didn’t leave. I didn’t leave without my phone because I was worried that if a shooting would happen, I would be without my phone and unable to call for help.

Later that evening I told Matt about that and laughed it off, thinking to myself I’m just paranoid. I waited until my phone was charged and then went out for my smoothie before going to the gym. Then, later that night as I was trying to fall asleep, I thought about the very real possibility that a shooting could happen. Last year there were more shootings than days in the year. I thought about how scary it is that we live in a country where we have to fear this in our everyday lives and I remembered how in my last two years of college, I was terrified to be in the library. Whenever I was in the library to work (which was almost every day) I would plan where I would run and hide if a shooter walked in. Those were some of the last thoughts I had before falling asleep.

The Next Day

The next day I woke up and went about my day as usual, not thinking about any of those grim thoughts I had the day before. I got up, had my coffee, worked from home, edited some videos, and then started getting ready for my therapy appointment. It was scheduled for 3:30 p.m. and it was getting closer to that time. I got dressed and got myself ready and stood in the kitchen contemplating leaving early to go to therapy. I thought how nice and sunny and beautiful it was outside and thought about how I could pass the half hour before my appointment sitting outside on a bench or in my car in the parking lot listening to my podcast.

But I decided against it. I decided to just wait until it got closer to the appointment to leave. When I finally did make it to the building for my therapy appointment, I was surprised and extremely confused by what I saw. Cop cars had circled a building, which is actually a church, preschool, and counseling center in one. Police started to fill the parking lot and the pastor was outside talking to the police and visibly nervous. 

I got out of the car, confused, and wondering if I should just turn around and go home, but I didn’t. I turned off my car, got out and walked up to the police and the pastor to ask what happened. Right where we were standing, a man fired a shot into the windows of the preschool just minutes before I had arrived. Shock is the only way I could think to describe what I felt right at that moment. 

They assured me that the children were safe and had been evacuated into the church. I asked if they caught the shooter yet, to which they responded, “No.” I froze for a moment and looked around in circles, knowing that just minutes before I arrived, a shooter had been standing right where I was. What if he was still here now?

The pastor and the police kept talking and finally I had to interrupt because I quickly realized that they thought I was a concerned parent waiting to pick up their child. I shared with them that I had a therapy session at 3:30 and the pastor told me that he would get me through a side door. I followed him, looking around behind me to make sure we were safe and walked in. 

Two minutes later, my very happy, bubbly therapist greeted me with a big smile and asked how I was. I could tell right away she had no idea what was happening. “Do you know what’s happening right now?” I asked her. Her eyebrows furrowed and she said, “No, what’s going on?” “A shot was just fired at the preschool, the building is surrounded by police.”

Right then, a not so pleasant woman came around the corner and yelled at me to get into the room so she could talk to my therapist privately, and proceeded to tell her what I just said. She told her that we could continue with our session and they wouldn’t interrupt us, or we could leave. My therapist walked back inside and I could tell she was just as shocked as I was. 

We decided together that this was not the right day to proceed with the session and we should both just reschedule and go home. She then proceeded to tell me how she attends service in the church and was just there this past Sunday. She told me that she had been sitting in the very back row by the door, and was distracted throughout the entire service because it had occurred to her that if there was a shooting inside the church that she was in the most vulnerable position. Here we were less than a week later. 

She also told me that she doesn’t believe this was random. Apparently, the church has a sign out front that says “Dear God, please help our elected officials stand up to the NRA.”

We both rescheduled for next week and I walked outside to get into my car and go home, only to discover that the police had blocked off the parking lot and I was unable to leave. Here I was again outside in open air, standing where the shooter had stood, and not able to leave. The police huddled together in one area and were discussing how they needed someone to get the video footage of the area. Finally, I found a police officer and walked up to her telling her that I was supposed to see my therapist but we decided to leave given the circumstances. I asked her if she would be able to move, but it turns out she had to then get permission for me to leave. I waited in the parking lot, shaking, looking around me hoping that this person wouldn’t return. All I could think about was if the shooter was still in the area, they might decide to target the police and anyone else standing in the parking lot. The police officer then came back, looked at my ID, took down my information and said that I could leave.

That evening, I was in shock for several hours. I occurred to me that had I left even just a few minutes sooner this day could have gone far differently. I could have been in exactly the wrong place at the wrong time. If I had left any earlier, I would have shown up at the same time as the shooter, possibly witnessed the shooting, and possibly been killed just for being the only other person in this empty parking lot.

Once I calmed down and came out of shock I started crying because I realized that we’re no longer safe anywhere. This building is a CHURCH, a PRESCHOOL, and a place where people go to for therapy. This place, out of all places, should particularly be one where people should feel safe and comfortable. 

This problem seems harder to wrap your mind around when it’s on TV. But when you’re standing there in my position, surrounded by cops and hearing people frantically try to find video footage and make sure the little kids are safe, it doesn’t seem so complicated. 

This SHOULDN’T be a problem. 

This needs to be changed.

America has proven time and time again that we are NOT capable of having guns. How many school shootings have to happen for us to realize that?

Takeaways

Now that I’ve had some time to think and process what happened, I thought of a few takeaways: things that I really want you to come away with after reading about my experience. 

1. DO Something

Stop posting on social media and take real action. There is nothing that makes me more angry on social media than when people are posting about how “😩😭😔” they are about an issue but don’t do anything to address the problem. It seems like nothing but a cry for attention online and to show how deep they are. If people actually cared, they would stop sharing their feelings on social media and take real action to address the problem. Sure you might have reshared a post about gun violence, women’s rights, or the Fair Oaks Farm calf abuse, but did you actually do anything about the issue? Being #sad about something isn’t going to change the state of our country. 

After this happened, I didn’t want to just be another mindless person sharing their feelings and sad emojis on social media for their friends to see. I went searching for things that I can do to help with gun control. In my search, I found this article on “30 Gun Control Actions You Can Take Now.” Once I’m done writing this post for you today, I’m going to do several of these myself. 

For now, I have signed up to join the Woman Against Gun Violence. By becoming a member of WAGV, they will notify me about upcoming events, what’s happening with gun legislation, and simple things that I can do to help reduce gun violence in our country. It could be something as simple as making a phone call or writing an email or attending a rally. 

2. Trust Your Intuition

The day before this happened I thought about the possibility of being in the wrong place at the wrong time of a shooting on two different occasions. I had no reason to start thinking about this. I didn’t see a post about gun violence online recently and I no longer watch the news. Nothing was making me think about this subject, I just did. And less than 24 hours later I show up minutes after a shooting. Even my therapist was worried about a shooting before it happened and opened up about her own fears of the reality of becoming yet another victim of gun violence.

We all must learn to tune into these feelings that show up and trust our intuition. I’m sharing this with you not because I have it figured out, this is one thing that I really need to work on. I always doubt myself so much that if my gut tells me to turn right, I’ll turn left, and I end up regretting it EVERY time because my intuition has never been wrong. Unfortunately, we live in a time and culture where we’re taught to think only with our heads. Things like gut instinct, intuition, or a “hunch” are seen as being ridiculous and “wooh-y.” If you tell someone you have a bad feeling, they’ll most likely laugh and make jokes about you’re a psychic.

But your gut is like a second brain and is usually MUCH smarter than our other brain. It gives us that knot in our stomachs when something is wrong to keep us safe and point us in the right direction. Collectively and individually we need to learn to trust that again. There are some things that we might not be able to see, explain, and prove, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

3. Nothing is a Coincidence 

Just like I shared in my last couple posts, the universe has your back. Since yesterday I keep telling myself thank goodness I didn’t show up any sooner! Thank goodness my therapist was already inside the building in her office and not walking in at that time. Thank goodness I decided to stay home instead of leaving early like I sometimes do. Otherwise, I would have been right there. 

I want you to take some time to really think about this and reflect on your own experience. Most people haven’t just missed a shooting by minutes, but many of us have had some moment in our lives just like this. Where we realized we got SO lucky because we ran a few minutes late, or decided to go somewhere else, or decided to stay in one night. You must have a moment like that buried somewhere in your memory. 

Take some time and think about that today. Search your memory for a time when this happened to you and don’t brush it off as a random coincidence. Remember that we have a greater power looking out for us.

Take time to feel grateful for those moments because the sad fact is that not every single person was that lucky.

4. Gun Control

One of my all-time favorite comedians is Jim Jefferies, who created this bit for a comedy show that blew up and went viral. It became such a sensation that it was even referenced on the news several times. What started out a simple comedy sketch blew up into a sensation that helped people understand the flawed logic that many Americans have when it comes to their precious guns. 

Now you might be thinking, “Who the hell is the random comedian, and why is he talking about gun control?” But I think Jim Jefferies is the perfect person to talk about this topic. Here’s why: 

  • He talks about this subject in a way that is super funny and relatable, meaning that this message has been able to reach millions simply by the humorous way that it was delivered.
  • He’s from Australia, where he shares they had 11 massacres and finally the government decided to take away guns which put an end to gun violence.
  • Jim Jefferies had a home invasion where he was tied up and cut while the invaders threatened to rape his girlfriend. He shares that owning a gun wouldn’t have helped him in the moment. How would he have known as he was naked in his house that two guys would randomly bust in with weapons? It’s not like he was “ready” and had a holster on him. 

The reason why I absolutely love this video is because he addresses all of our flawed views of guns including, “I need it for protection,” “I’m a responsible gun owner,” “If gun control were to happen only the criminals would have guns,” and “The answer to gun violence is more guns.”

There’s one argument that I think is the most important thing that we need to take away in these conversations about gun violence. Jim Jefferies explains that every American should be able to have a gun. Yep. Everyone. Everyone and their mother who is a “responsible gun owner” should be able to have a gun. But guess what…that’s not how society works! We have to play to the 1% of people who are going to use it for bad reasons. As he says, “We have to walk as slow as our slowest person to keep society moving.” 

Sure, maybe the majority of people who have guns would be “responsible” with guns should be allowed to have them. But there are too many people who feel the need to walk into a preschool and murder a bunch of 4-year-olds with an assault rifle. There are too many kids who will pick up a gun thinking its toy and shoot their brother or sister in the stomach. And there are too many people who have the worst days of their lives who have too many drinks and remember they have a gun in the house, and how easy it would be to end it. There’s also too much domestic violence as it is. You have an abusive, drunken husband in the house who gets mad at his wife over something stupid, do you really want to know what happens when there are guns in the house?

This argument that gun lovers share over and over again is, “Why should I have my guns taken away? I’m not crazy. I’m responsible.” It just doesn’t work. Because as Jefferies says so eloquently, “That’s the thing about crazy people, they don’t know they’re crazy. That’s what makes them crazy.”

You should also be able to drive as fast as you want to all the time. But guess what. We can’t. That’s not how society works. 

We need gun control because unfortunately, we live in a country where this is not the first shooting at a PRESCHOOL. We can’t attend church, or send our 3- and 4-year-olds to preschool, or go to therapy, or go get a f*cking smoothie before a workout without living in fear of being shot. When are all of us going to get on the same page and finally come together and admit that WE NEED GUN CONTROL? How many children have to die? How many shootings have to happen?

Now, I realize that there are plenty of pro-gun people who would rather die than hear someone even mention the idea of gun control in America, but you’re reading a post from a girl who just missed a shooting by a few minutes yesterday and who knows THREE other locations that I used to go to that all had shootings. This is a very real issue that finally needs to be fixed.

I can also think back to middle school and high school and remember three separate conversations I overheard from other students where they shared that their fathers had a gun collection and gun safes. In each conversation I heard, the students shared that they knew how to use a gun, they knew the safe combination, and if they REALLY wanted to, they could bring the guns into school and murder people. This is America.

On that note, if you’d like to take a look and end this story with a much-needed laugh, you can watch it HERE: Part 1 & Part 2. I know this post is very different than what I typically write about, but this felt like something too big to not write about. And if you know me personally, then you probably understand at this point that writing about my experiences helps me to re-frame things more positively in my mind and process my experience. 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

The Broken Window Theory & How to Create Massive Change in Your Life

Self-Help

Can you believe that it’s already the end of summer? How freaking quickly is the year flying by? It seems like just yesterday I was writing down my New Year’s resolutions and determined to create a better me in 2019. Well, if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably nowhere near checking off those resolutions and wondering “Who the hell did I think I would be in 2019? Superwoman?”

I’m not the only one who’s made this mistake over and over, and it doesn’t just happen during the new year. We’re all interested in improving ourselves in some way, whether it’s getting in shape, learning a language, learning how to cook, deepening our yoga practice, reading more, etc. But in our good intentions and excitement from a sudden wave of inspiration, we try to do too much and we set ourselves up for failure. We want to change, but often try to create a drastic change in such a short period of time which inevitably only leaves us feeling guilty and disappointed.

This happens with both the bad habits we’re trying to break and the good ones that we want to adopt. A very popular example would be trying to quit smoking cold-turkey. We all know someone (or maybe we are that someone) who’s always “trying to quit.” Don’t worry, there’s no judgment from me!

One of my latest examples was that I wanted to start keeping my apartment cleaner so Matt would be happier to come home to a clean space and our home would look lovely all the time. I decided that each and every day I would have the dishes done, the laundry done, the counters spotless, fresh flowers in the kitchen, the floors vacuumed, the bed made, and the bathroom cleaned – 24/7. I decided this randomly one evening after a surge of inspiration to tidy up the house. Well, it’s now weeks later, and how beautiful do you think the apartment is looking right now? It’s NOT.

My clothes and piles of laundry are scattered all over the apartment, and there’s no sign of my resolution to keep the house clean. The clothes have taken over yet again. If I ever go missing, you just might find me trapped under a pile of clothes in our bedroom. 

As a self-help and self-improvement junkie, I understand more than anyone that desire to improve oneself and feel that sense of personal accomplishment when your goals are met, the house is cleaned, you’ve eaten healthy, and you’ve worked out that day. There’s nothing better than that feeling of being proud of yourself. But too often, we get so excited about that potential to create drastic change and become a better person, that we try to create massive change in our lives overnight. We try to lose 20 pounds immediately, we try to read five books in a month, or we try to go vegan in a weekend. But ultimately those changes don’t last. Changing one’s lifestyle and behaviors takes time and learning.

The Broken Window Theory

This blog post was inspired by a podcast by The Minimalists who I’ve referenced many times before. If you haven’t heard of The Minimalists, they’re best friends Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus who became popular after releasing their documentary “Minimalism” on Netflix. They’re authors, podcasters, filmmakers, and public speakers who spend their lives sharing how living with less helped them find happiness, freedom, and fulfillment that money and possessions can’t give us.

In one of their “Quickie” podcast episodes, called “How Small Changes Make Big Progress,”Joshua and Ryan discussed how small everyday changes in our lives helps us move toward sustainability because those radical changes just don’t stick. Radical changes are like crash diets – it’s not feasible to keep that going all the time. However, making small healthy changes, one meal or snack at a time is what gives people the results that they want. Over time, those small changes eventually start to multiply. 

In this podcast episode, Ryan talked about an example of this that he witnessed when he was visiting Tokyo. He noticed that the city was so immaculate and clean that whenever he would see a piece of trash on the ground, it motivated him to pick it up! The city looked so clean and perfect that he felt the need to keep it that way. I think that’s really saying something, because how often do we go out of our way to pick up trash when we’re walking around? 

Joshua gave his example that resonated with me so much that it was the part that inspired this post today. He shared that this phenomenon is often called “The Wildfire Theory,” but he thinks of it as “The Broken Window Theory.”

He explains how in the 1990s in New York City, people were trying to make the city nicer and over time the urban planners realized something interesting in their efforts to turn the city around. They noticed that if there was ever a broken window in one building and they FIXED it, other buildings nearby start fixing their broken windows too. However, the areas that they didn’t fix ended up getting more broken windows and eventually would attract graffiti and other vandalism. Of course, they also noticed that whenever there was a little bit of graffiti, this lead to MORE graffiti. This realization prompted urban planners to not only fix windows all over the city but to create a 24-hour graffiti removal service. All you had to do was call the hotline, and someone would be there to remove the graffiti within 24 hours!

I love this example that Joshua gives because it’s safe to say that the majority of us have noticed this with our own eyes, and I think that it’s much easier to grasp the broken window theory than to picturing a wildfire. The other reason why I love this example is that the same is true for our everyday lives. As Joshua says, “We all have our own broken windows.” They take the form of past traumas, household clutter, toxic relationships, financial stress, smoking cigarettes, unhealthy eating, and weight gain. They’re the things in life that we want so badly to fix, but we can’t. Why? Because that’s A LOT of freaking changes.

And the broken windows are often so subtle that we don’t notice them as the start of a much bigger issue. They show up as the pajamas we throw on the ground in the morning; the laundry that piles that we don’t put away; the “to-do” list that keeps growing; the appointments that have to be made; the dishes that stack up in the sink; the Oreos that we ate last night; the toxic emotions we’ve bottled up since childhood. We don’t make the effort to fix the problem soon enough, or maybe even notice it happening, so it creates more and more chaos.

Then when we decide to make a change, we try to take on too much at once. We try to turn over the entire city of New York in one week; we try to clean our entire apartment in one night; and we try to knock out a to-do list that’s been growing since we rang in the New Year. The reality is that these broken windows have to be fixed the same way they were created: gradually. 

The added challenge that we have to take into consideration is that those “broken windows” are years of habits that have become so ingrained in us that we don’t even realize that we’re doing it. It all becomes automatic. We get up in the morning and we throw our pajamas on the ground; we eat dinner and we leave the dish in the sink; we do laundry but we never put it away. So how on earth could we change all of those things at once? I don’t know this for sure, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.

How to Create Massive Change in Your Life?

Don’t worry, I’m not gonna leave you on THAT note – by saying it’s impossible, that nothing can be done. So I put together a list of seven ways that you can fix your broken windows in a way that’s gradual AND reasonable, and that have the potential to actually stick long-term. I recommend trying all of them and then picking the one that you find the easiest to incorporate in your life. 

1. Fix one broken window at a time

My first piece of advice is to fix one broken window at a time. If you want to get in shape and focus on your health, maybe don’t declare to the world that you’re going to do P90X every day for the next 90 days, give up all the foods that you love, and stop drinking. Side note: I saw someone do this before and he looked MISERABLE… and also went back to his bad habits once he was done. Just as quickly as he got a six-pack, he lost it. 

Instead make the decision to exercise for an hour 3-4 days a week, or to run a 5k, or get 10,000 steps in. Then, after you’ve made one change and adapted to it, make one dietary change every couple of weeks. Maybe give up that one thing you eat WAY too much of. I met a woman once who lost 25 pounds because she gave up Pepsi! PEPSI! That’s all she did!She didn’t throw in an entire exercise regime and dietary changes all at once. She worked on ONE broken window: her soda addiction. I met her after she had lost all that weight and she talked to me about what her next healthy change would be. She was in the process of trying to decide how she would incorporate exercise next.

So pick one “broken window” and do something that is actually going to work for you in your everyday life. Fixing that window will help you gradually fix the other windows, and in the end, it will last.

2. Set the bar low 

If you find yourself not being able to accomplish those big things you set out to do, set goals that are so ridiculously small, that it would be impossible to NOT do them. Set the bar extremely low! Don’t put pressure on yourself to quit smoking immediately, instead, say I’m not going to smoke after ___ pm. Or I’m not going to smoke more than ___ amount of cigarettes a day. Or I’m only going to get ___ packs a week. Set the bar low and give yourself a chance to adjust.

Here’s another example: You know how much it sucks to unpack after a trip? You know how you have to unpack that suitcase, but it sits there on the freaking floor for days, sometimes weeks, overflowing with clothes that you never want to put away? Ok, maybe it’s just me. I REALLY hate laundry in case you couldn’t tell. Whenever I catch myself doing this… which is anytime I go anywhere, I make the decision to put away ONE item in the suitcase every time I walk by it. Once I decide that I’m able to tackle the suitcase in no time, but if I tried to do it all at once, it wouldn’t happen. 

Set the bar so stupidly low, that you have no reason and no excuse to not follow through. If you want to accomplish something BIGGER, like a bigger goal or lifelong dream, not just unpacking a suitcase, plan out each of the steps that you’re going to be taking. Decide each low bar that you would have to set for yourself in order to finally actualize that dream. Decide to enroll in a course tomorrow, or research your target market, or write one page of your business plan, or finally register as a business, or write ONE page of your book. Write down each low bar you have to set for yourself and accomplishing the bigger things in life. It will make it far less scary, far more reasonable, and it will finally get you moving in the right direction.

3. Gretchen Rubin’s One Minute Rule

If it’s a matter of the little things accumulating and getting out of hand, try using a trick that I learned from happiness expert, author, blogger, and podcaster Gretchen Rubin. She came up with this “One Minute Rule” that’s become incredibly popular with her audience. The idea is that if you can do something in one minute or less, you should do it right away.

This trick helps to tackle countless broken windows throughout the day and prevent them from spiraling into a bigger issue. For example, a plate can be rinsed off and put in the dishwasher in about 5-10 seconds, so you should do it right away. It gets little tasks out of the way and keeps them from boiling up. For that reason, it takes you a few seconds to do something, rather than letting dozens of simple tasks get out of hand. At that point, it would take you an hour, or even several hours of running around trying to do so many things at once. We’ve all been there when we’re trying to clean up a room that we let get messier and messier for the last month, which means that we have to spend the next half a day cleaning to get everything done. It takes so much more time and energy to tackle all of it than it would to chip away one task at a time.

It’s a great trick to adopt as far cleaning and putting clothes away if you’re like me, but it could also be used in everyday life. Because I’m writing this post right now and was reminded of this rule, it finally prompted me to call someone back that I’ve been putting off for two days, even though I knew it would only take me 60 seconds. If you have to do anything that takes a minute or less, like write a quick email, then write the damn email! Otherwise, all it does is add to the collection of broken windows you have going and weigh on your mind. 

4. Set a power hour

This next tip is also one that I learned from Gretchen Rubin. (I really love her in case you couldn’t tell). The idea is that if you have a lot of tasks stacking up – maybe they take a minute or maybe they require a little bit more time and energy – you should set an hour aside each week to tackle them.

You know those tasks that aren’t necessarily hard or difficult, but it requires you to do a few steps, or make a couple of calls, or research something first, or dig through your filing cabinet, so you just keep not doing it? The thought of spending those next 10-15 minutes working on this random annoying task that you don’t want to have to do, keeps you procrastinating and not doing this thing for weeks. I do this to myself whenever I have to go looking for a new doctor. For example, when I decided that I wanted to see a therapist, it took me several weeks to finally start making calls and searching for someone because I knew I’d have to spend at least 20 minutes, researching places in the area, calling people, repeating my insurance information, setting up appointments, and then going to consultations with different therapists.

This task wasn’t hard, but it felt annoying and inconvenient. It took more time and mental energy than putting away some dirty dishes, so I continued to put it off. I’m sure you have some task like that you really don’t want to do! For things like these, it’s a good idea to select a day of the week and set aside one hour to power through these random tasks that you’ve been setting aside. It forces you to finally get it done and make some progress, and it finally eliminates that task that’s been weighing on you and making you unhappy and anxious.

5. Decide 1-3 things you want to focus on the next day

One way to tackle your broken windows, eliminate bad habits, or even accomplish larger goals, is to decide the night before what you will focus your energy on tomorrow. I like to incorporate this whenever I feel myself losing focus on my work and getting stressed out. Each night before bed, get out a notebook or a post-it note and reflect on what you would like to focus your energy on the next day. Remember to only pick one to three items.

I find that this works because otherwise, it’s easy to look at the mountain of tasks that you need to get done in order to be successful or reach a goal, and think to yourself, “Where the f*ck do I even start?” For example, sometimes my list looks something like: 1) Create welcome email 2) Edit new video 3) Start ____ post. Or 1) Publish post 2) Choose quotes for Pinterest graphics 3) Brainstorm ebook ideas. It’s a short list of goals that you know you can reasonably get done the next day and provide some direction and support so you stay on track.

You can use this trick with work, with getting in shape, or with breaking bad habits. It’s even been helpful for me in the areas of spirituality and self-improvement. If you’re trying to lose weight, your list might look something like: 1) Go to the gym for 20 minutes 2) Make dinner at home 3) No snacking after 9 pm. Or maybe 1) Look up ab workout ideas 2) Get some healthy snacks at the grocery store 3) No chips. The beauty of this list is that it varies every day, so you don’t make the same mistake of making a drastic decision or lifestyle changes at once. 

6. Say no

I felt the need to mention saying no on this list as well because too many people try to take on more than they can handle. Not only is it a way that we self-sabotage, but it’s also a reflection of our culture now. It’s a culture where we treat each other like computers that are meant to be productive, to perform, and to function all day long, rather than connect, love, and LIVE.

It’s a culture where high school students feel as if their self-worth is defined by how many AP classes they’re in and if we’re not making six figures, we’re not good enough. I believe that we won’t be able to create massive change in our lives and fix our broken windows unless we learn to first slow down and cut back. Otherwise, our physical and mental energy is drained, while more windows break in an effort to keep all the balls in the air. But here’s the thing, while we desperately need to learn to say no to other people, we especially need to learn to say no to OURSELVES.

We’re our own worst critic and nobody expects more from ourselves than we do. Which is when I get 10 new ideas for blog posts, I expect myself to be able to do all of them. When I have an idea for a video, an email, a graphic, a book, I think that every idea I have to say yes to in order to be the superhero version of myself I want to be. I do this with collabs, with my website, with challenges I make up for myself, and with classes and programs that I learn about. It’s the reason why Matt is always having to have an intervention with me at our kitchen counter and say, “You’re trying to do too much. You’re gonna stress yourself out. You can’t do it all.” While we may have thousands of epic and wonderful ideas, it’s impossible to say yes to all of them. By saying yes to every idea, you’re not even able to see one through completely. So learn to slow down, and say no. Say no to family members who demand too much from you, say no to friends who treat you more like an assistant than a friend, say no to coworkers that try to pass off their responsibilities onto you, and above all, say no to yourself. You can’t do it all. 

7. Remind yourself that it’s going to take time

Last but not least, when it comes to creating massive change in our lives, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s going to take time. I’m so guilty of this because I want everything done, perfect, and completed right away. I’ve very impatient when it comes to my progress and I have to remind myself of this almost daily. And I know I’m not the one human being in the world who does this to themselves. I see it in my friends and family too.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and create expectations that we would never expect from anyone else. And we expect that we should be able to get things done immediately. We go to one CrossFit class and immediately think we’re weak and bad at it because we can’t deadlift 200 lbs. Or we take one yoga class a year and get frustrated with ourselves because we can’t do a headstand right away. When it comes to ourselves, we think we should make progress far faster than is reasonable, which is why it’s so important to remind yourself that things take time. All you can do is to try your best, and eventually, you’ll get there. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I hope this post was helpful for you by highlighting the biggest pitfall that millions of us make every January – we expect to make a massive change in our lives overnight. When it comes to accomplishing lifelong goals, breaking bad habits, or creating healthy change in our lives, for some reason, we feel as if we should do it instantaneously. The problem is that many of us have our own little “broken windows” that have to be fixed before we can do that. Like sleeping in too late, eating unhealthy, holding ourselves back, or staying in toxic relationships. But if you take small steps, and make one change at the time, that effort begins to spread like wildfire.

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you noticed that you’ve made this mistake before? Or maybe are making it right now? What are some examples where you’ve done this to yourself? Have you thought of any of your own broken windows? How do you think you could create massive changes by using some of these tips I mentioned? Do you have any other suggestions that you think might help people create massive change in their lives? Let me know in the comments!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

What’s in the Mail? Muscle MX + My New Favorite Products

Product Reviews, What's in the Mail?

Hello, and welcome to my brand new section of the website called “What’s In The Mail?”

If you’ve been a loyal reader and Instagram follower of mine, then you’re already very familiar with my boyfriend Matt, the emotional support behind Lost Online. He keeps me sane through all the ups and downs of building a successful blog from the ground up. But when he’s not giving me hugs, cuddles, and words of encouragement his REAL job is with IRONMAN Triathlon as an Account Executive of Expo Sales.

At every race, health and wellness brands that are interested in exhibiting their products to a large and active lifestyle audience pay to be a part of the IRONMAN Village Expo. Matt sells expo space for triathlons and marathons all across the country. While negotiating with these companies they sometimes offer to send him free samples of their product. 

Since Matt started working for IRONMAN he and I have been able to test out a wide variety of products that suddenly show up in our mailbox, from activewear laundry detergent to Keto bricks, to Chaga Mushroom shots, and EVERYTHING CBD – pills, creams, sprays, tinctures, you name it. Since we always seem to be trying out some new health and wellness-related product that we haven’t heard of before, he and I thought it would be fun to create mini-reviews on whatever happens to show up in the mail!

This is where Matt and I will showcase and review what we received and each of our thoughts on the product. This new section of the blog is a little bit different than the reviews that I typically do where I create a full blog post and take photos. I prefer to only create entire blog posts on products that I’m really obsessed with because of the amount of time, work, and energy that goes into creating a post.

“What’s in the Mail?” is going to be mini-reviews of products that we received and both of our thoughts on the products. I thought this could be interesting for you all to read since the majority of the time he and I have opposing opinions on the products. I hope you enjoy this new addition to the site and make sure to stay tuned to discover what could possibly be your new favorite health and wellness products.

I just want to throw it out there that we will NOT be trying to CONVINCE people to send us products or asking for products in exchange for a review. We’re simply reviewing the samples that have been given to us and providing our honest thoughts. We have such a good time experimenting with our new samples anyways that I thought why not share it with you all too! After all, we love trying them and the companies are hoping for word of mouth advertising and exposure anyways!

So what’s in our mailbox this week? Muscle MX CBD Balm

This new CBD product was made with the belief that no one should be constrained from leading a full and active life because of pain and discomfort and that the healing powers of cannabinoids and other all-natural ingredients exemplify an active lifestyle. By developing innovative ways for people to apply and utilize cannabis, the creators of Muscle MX believe that can help people improve their lives by living freely.

Before I get into my own review of this product, I’ll first share Matt’s (: He’s been in many photos of the blog before, but this time you get to read his own words! Next go around, we’ll make sure to get some of his love-able personality in the post for you. 

Matt’s Thoughts: 

Muscle MX CBD Balm is a product that I will definitely be using again. It has significantly helped with my neck and knee pain. The two different balms that were given to me were the extra strength heating and extra strength cooling.

The balms come in an easy to use “deodorant roller” cartridge that makes the application super easy and no mess and balm residue is left over on your hands. You just roll the bottom part clockwise to get more of the balm to show! This applicator is a nice feature. The balm does take a bit to kick in but once it does you can really feel the cooling/heating ingredients in the product. The only downside to the balm is that it sticks when put on under your clothes and it is not fast drying, so take that into account when using.

For the benefits of the balm, I have been using both and when my muscles ache or I have sore joints for exercising, I put this on and within about 15 minutes it significantly reduces the pain. I use both in conjunction with each other. The heating balm really helps to loosen up the muscles and joints and then followed up with the cooling, helps to relieve any pain that I have.

I would highly recommend this product to anyone who is highly active and works out 5-6 days a week. Great product for those people who do endurance esports and put a lot of wear and tear on the knees!

Heather’s Thoughts:

I like that I tried this product now, instead of a year ago, because luckily I now have a lot of products that I can compare this to in my mind. I have tried MANY different topical pain products because of Matt’s job, the wellness fairs we go to, and my own research and curiosity. I’ve been on the hunt for good pain relief products whether they include CBD in the ingredients or not. Matt and I are both active people and we both have knots in our necks and backs like you wouldn’t believe! For that reason, I’ve tried very similar items that don’t appear to have done anything special for me, but with this one, I can say that it does work and it’s fast-acting. Unlike many other things I’ve tried, it helps relieve the ache relatively fast.

My biggest problem area, as far as pain goes, is right in between my shoulder blades. That’s where I collect stubborn knots because they’re in a spot that’s so difficult to get to and loosen up without the help of a masseuse. However, after I applied this product, I noticed that the ache started to fade to the point where I had forgotten I was even in pain. I didn’t have to take a pill or have Matt massage the area, it just started to slowly feel better until I thought nothing of it. 

What I like about this product too, is that there’s an Activate Balm for heated relief and a Recovery Balm for cooling relief. I particularly like the Activate Balm for heated relief especially in the evenings before bed because I like the warming effect. The cool one I could see using right after a workout or maybe in the morning because it feels more refreshing. 

The one downside was I noticed with this product is that it was sticky. Whenever we use the product it tends to make the containers gross and sticky so you have to whip them off with a paper towel after. Even though it comes in a roll-on package like deodorant, there’s always some product that goes over the plastic when you apply it on yourself. Then when you put the cap back on it pushes the access product down the container. It’s the same problem you’ll notice when you apply chapstick or deodorant, but Muscle MX is pretty goopy and sticky, so it makes the package and your hands a little bit messy. It’s nothing that a paper towel can’t fix, but it is a bit inconvenient. This is also another reason I prefer to use it at night. I also recommend using this product when you’re wearing a t-shirt you don’t care about. However, the good thing is that the products came in a little black bag so we can store them without them getting anything else sticky.

I will say I wasn’t 100% blown away with these two products. My #1 go-to topical treatment for pain is still Deep Blue Essential Oil by doTERRA, BUT Muscle MX does work and is worth a try. I like to use it for dull aches and pains, but if I was in A LOT of pain I will still reach for ibuprofen or Deep Blue Essential Oil.

The other pro about these products is that they aren’t expensive. To get the bundle with both the Active and Recovery Balm like we have, it only cost $30. The price is very comparable to similar CBD products on the market. Overall, I think Muscle MX is worth a try, especially if you’re someone who is REALLY interested in CBD and trying out new CBD items. 

What I’m Loving Lately

At the end of these posts, I thought it would also be fun to share what products I’m loving right now. These are products that I use constantly or I’m very obsessed with, but I don’t have enough to say about each of them individually to warrant an entire blog post. Here’s what I’ve been loving as of late:

1. Body products from Neob Niagara.

Some of you probably already know that I recently took a very spontaneous trip up to Niagara Falls with my grandmother and my cousin, Devon. It was a quick trip up and back, but during our short weekend there it was wonderful. One of the highlights of my trip was going to Neob Niagara, which I found out about through Instagram. It’s a business that has lavender fields and other flowers and herbs that they grow on the property. They offer tours and lavender picking, and let you roam around the fields taking majestic pictures surrounded by lavender.

They also sell many different body products and essential oils that they create themselves. There’s everything from body sprays, soaps, lotions, shampoos and conditioners, cleaning products, and much more. I decided that while I was there I wanted to bring back some products especially since I’m fragrance-free and loved the idea of bringing back body products that were created from the very flowers I saw with my own eyes. Oddly enough, I came back with mostly rose scented products! Although, the company is most known for their “Glorious Lavender” I’m obsessed with their Rose Geranium products. There’s something so lovely and feminine about Rose, that it’s one of my favorite scents. I decided to try their Rose Geranium Body Spritz, Rose Geranium Whipped Butter, Rose Geranium Body Lotion, and Glorious Lavender Rosemary Shampoo

Since I’ve bought these products I’ve been using the body mist and lotions constantly. They feel so luxurious and smell better than any other fragrance-free lotion or product I’ve been using. Plus they feel particularly special having walked through those fields of flowers myself. And of course, they smell absolutely incredible! I use the hand cream morning and night, the body mist when I’m about to walk out the door into the hot Florida sun, and the lotion every night after my shower. My absolute favorite products is the Rose Spritz, because it’s like wearing a subtle perfume. It smells lovely, and it isn’t overwhelming. If you’re interested in trying them yourself, you can find the products on their website at neobniagara.com.

2. Rose Quartz Stone Bracelet

The next product that I’m absolutely loving is this gorgeous stone bracelet that I bought from a quaint little apothecary in the historical town of Niagara-on-the-Lake called Maison Apothecare. The stone is made from rose quartz beads, wooden beads, and one lava stone beads. I completely fell in love with the color of the bracelet the moment I saw it, and love it even more once I learned that you can put essential oils on the lava stone to make it even more special. I don’t know how much you would actually be able to smell it throughout the day, but I still loved the idea. I knew from the moment that I saw this bracelet it was perfect for me. It’s so beautiful and so feminine, I’ve been wearing it ever since. 

3. Brown, Beaded Indie Market Bracelet

The next product that I’ve been obsessed with lately, is a second stone bracelet that I bought in St. Pete at the Indie Market that happens every Thursday evening. The bracelet was created by Mystic Sisters and is a beautiful stone bracelet with gorgeous brown and nude coloring in it. The reason why I love it so much is because it flatters my skin tone perfectly. At first, I thought I was the only person who noticed that but since I bought this bracelet, I’ve gotten so many compliments on how pretty it is and how it flatters my skin tone. Several of those comments were actually from MEN!

I don’t know about you but I think that means a lot. How often do men compliment us on something like jewelry… especially a compliment that specific?! That’s how you know it’s a beautiful piece of jewelry when even men take the time to point it out! I’ve been in love with this bracelet since the moment I bought it that I’ve been wearing it almost every day. I especially love wearing it along with my rose quartz bracelet.

4. Maison Apothecare Facial Brightening Serum

Next, is another product from Maison Apothecare – their facial brightening serum! The serum is right up there with Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum and the Iluma Brightening Serum in my opinion. It’s so luxurious and you can see the serum brightening up your skin the moment you start to apply it. It works so well and makes my skin so beautiful that I wish I could use it twice a day, however the directions say to only use the product at night time about 3-4 times a day. This is one product I’ll mostly likely re-order because you all know my obsession with serums at this point. I may have a bit of an unhealthy addiction to serums…

5. doTERRA Rose Touch

My next favorite product that I’ve been using each and every day is my new doTERRA Rose Touch roll-on essential oil. (I’m starting to notice a bit of a rose theme in this post today.) This essential oil quickly became one of my all-time favorite doTERRA products. This is the one essential oil that I don’t use for health, cleaning, or beauty purposes, but rather I use it as a perfume! It’s such a soft, subtle, and feminine scent, and I think it smells absolutely amazing. What I love about this product is that it’s rose essential oil, NOT rose-scented perfume, so it smells very flattering, but is also very natural. It doesn’t smell like you’re wearing perfume, it smells like you use a nice rose-scented soap.

I also love this product because it comes in a roll-on package, so it’s easy to apply just like a roll-on perfume. I started using this product daily, so now I keep it right on my jewelry dish and I put it on at the same time as my jewelry before I walk out of the door.

6. Autumn’s Aqua Acrylic Pour Painting

Last, but certainly, not least is a painting that was created by my sister, Autumn. She’s a painter, photographer, and a student at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Autumn, recently started to create these stunning, blue acrylic pour paintings! She sells them on her Etsy and started to promote her paintings on Instagram too. One day she created a few of these acrylic pours and shared them online and I loved this one the second I saw it.

I’m definitely not promoting this for the sake of my sister getting some eyes on her Etsy, I genuinely love this painting. If you don’t already know (even though my social media does a good job of giving it away) my absolute favorite colors are turquoise and blues and I’m obsessed with acrylic pour paintings. They’re so simple, yet so beautiful at the same time. I had my sister let me know the moment she uploaded it to Etsy and I bought the painting immediately. The only downside is that Matt and I are currently out of wall space for new artwork, so I’ve had it propped up against a wall so I can at least enjoy it! She creates a bunch of pieces similar to this one and even created a blue acrylic pour skateboard, which I believe is still available!

And that’s it for my favorite products at the moment and for “What’s in the Mail?”

I hope you all love this new addition to the blog! As always let me know what you think in the comments! Did you like this new addition to the website? Is there anything in particular you want us to review? Are you interested in seeing more of my favorite products?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online! 

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression with Herbology & Self Love

Health & Wellness, Self-Help

I made an appointment. I filled out the forms. I was asked personal questions. The health professionals checked my pulse and tongue. By the end of my appointment, the herbalists all reached the same diagnosis: my heart was broken.

Seeing a Western Herbalist?

Years ago if you would have told me that whenever I got sick I would be seeking out the help of an herbalist over a doctor, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sometimes we surprise ourselves like that.

It all started several months back when I ended up getting really sick. I was suffering from tonsillitis that wouldn’t go away, chronic stomach aches every night that lasted hours, and what I thought was my fourth or fifth breast infection. So of course, I went to the doctor. And then another doctor, and then another doctor, and then another and another and another. I had so many appointments, but they always ended up going the same way. The doctor would shoo me out as fast as possible, give me a prescription, and say that they didn’t know what was wrong with me.

After experiencing that for many months in a row, I finally decided to change my methods. I decided to instead go to Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Petersburg, Fla. I enjoyed my experience and their holistic approach at Traditions so much that when I started to experience depression, getting in for an appointment was my top priority. No way was I going to take random depression pills. Nope. I had already tried that once before when I was a teenager.

I am not at all saying that taking pills is wrong and I know that for some people it is extremely helpful, especially for those who suffer from clinical depression. But pills don’t work for me and I’ve found that they tend to only create weird side effects for me. Plus, being so involved in self-help, health, and wellness, seeing a traditional doctor and going on pills was not at all what I wanted to do. Instead, I was going to go to the Herbal Clinic and go about healthily treating depression by trying to heal from the inside out, not cover up the depression with a band-aid.

My Holistic Approach to Treating Depression

If you’ve never been to an herbal clinic before, it’s the exact opposite experience of seeing a traditional doctor. The approach at herbal clinics is to get to the root of the problem, rather than treat a symptom. The herbalist will sit with you for an hour or more discussing EVERYTHING from your mental health to digestion. They also use very traditional methods that have been used for centuries before we had people in lab coats with medical degrees throwing pills around like candy on Halloween. At the Traditions Herbal Clinic in St. Pete, they specifically use a mixture of Western and Chinese Herbalism. In each visit, they will examine your pulse in nine different places on each wrist to get an idea of how the organs are functioning, and they do a tongue examination. 

The way the appointment works when you go to the student clinic is you sit with them for about an hour and go over everything with them. They write down their thoughts and theories on what’s going on with your body, then one of the owners comes in to make sure it’s correct and to see if they have any other recommendations or additions. The owners include Dr. Bob Linde, AP, DOM, RH(AHG) and Renee Crozier, RH(AHG). (You could choose to see the owners themselves, however, it does cost more money.) I saw Allison for my appointment and then Renee who specializes in cancer care and traditional healing.

After you see both the student and the owner and discuss your health history, systems, diet, lifestyle, digestion, etc., they put together a very specific herbal formula for you and create a wellness plan. The formula and wellness plan that they put together have very specific recommendations that are supposed to help you to heal physically, spiritually, AND mentally. This is exactly the approach that I wanted to take to treating depression. I wanted to sit with someone who talked to me rather than shooed me out of the office and I wanted to be put on a holistic formula rather than with pharmaceutical drugs that only address a symptom. I also decided to begin regular therapy. Which, if you’re interested in hearing about that, make sure to read my last post, “I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m Thankful For It.”

My Appointment

Disclaimer: I just want to say that the people at Tradition’s Herbal Clinic are extremely knowledgeable in traditional healing and herbalism, so I know I’m not doing their hypothesis justice by trying to explain it myself. But I will try the best I can!

The day I went in for my appointment I filled out all the paperwork and health history information. After that, Allison took my paperwork with her to review for a few minutes and then we started. She asked me all sorts of questions related to what I wrote down, discussed my symptoms with me, checked my pulse and tongue, and even asked me very personal questions about my lifestyle and relationships. Renee then joined us about mid-way through the appointment. 

About an hour and fifteen minutes, both Renee and Allison had come to a conclusion that I’ve never heard before from any kind of doctor or health appointment I’ve had: they concluded that I was suffering from a broken heart.

They shared with me that just as we have PHYSICAL organs like the heart and the brain, we also have SPIRITUAL ones. We have a physical heart just as we have a spiritual heart and they’re both connected. Meaning that when we’re having problems in the body they can manifest as mental issues and vice versa.

In my case, they believed that I have a broken heart, and because of outside influences and comments that I had stored in my memory and internalized, I had also developed awful self-talk. All of this sadness and negativity was building up in my heart and my mind creating depression and symptoms in my physical body. They believed that if I didn’t get a hold on it and heal myself that those mental issues could later manifest in the body and create serious diseases as I age, such as coronary artery disease.

Herbalist Recommendations & Wellness Plan

To heal my body and my heart, Renee and Allison recommended I drink loose leaf tea twice a day that they made for me later that night. The tea is made from a mixture of eight different herbs including schizandra berry, tulsi, eose, hawthorn berry, hibiscus, and passion flower. They also wanted me to take a flower essence tincture three times a day by placing four drops of the essence under my tongue. Aside from their formula they would create for me, Renee and Allison wanted me to be taking Probiotics REGULARLY (not just when the mood strikes) as well as magnesium and vitamin D supplements.

Above all, they wanted me to work on my mindset, my self-talk, and learn to love myself. (Easier said than done, right?) Their suggestions for this were to get three different books that they felt could help me the most, but they wanted me to listen to audiobooks because I remember better when I hear something rather than read it. Two of the three audiobooks they recommended included, “The Four Agreements,” and “The Fifth Agreement,” both by Miguel Ruiz. They believed that I would benefit if I learned to adopt the agreements: be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and do your best.

They also believed that I could gain some insight from these books by learning about HOW we make agreements with ourselves and internalize beliefs. They also thought that it would help me learn about how humans spew emotional poison onto others creating more unhappiness on an individual scale which has a ripple effect out into the rest of the world.

The last audiobook they wanted me to listen to is “You Can Heal Your Life,” by Louise Hay. This one is about how our limiting beliefs and ideas are often the cause of illness and how we can change our thinking to improve the quality of our lives. 

Lastly, Renee and Allison wanted me to talk to myself. Also not something I was expecting to hear! They wanted me to talk to myself out loud and in my mind giving myself compliments or saying affirmations. The hope this that though me doing this regularly, my mindset will start to shift and become more loving and compassionate towards myself rather than being an invisible bully that follows me all day.

Those are my herbalist’s recommendations for helping with the depression that I’ve been experiencing from all the stress and big life changes over the last year. From here on I’m supposed to follow their recommendations for the next month until my second appointment. Then I’ll have a follow-up appointment where I’ll go back to meet with Allison and Renee and they’ll examine me again to provide new recommendations to incorporate and to discuss my next round of healing with a second herbal formula. 

My Self-Love Challenge

Because I have an entire month left of taking their advice before the next appointment, I thought it would be nice to make this month a time of serious self-love. Because not only do I want to go into that next appointment having made progress and taking their suggestions seriously, but I also want to see if shifting your mindset is even possible in the first place. I know it must be possible because all the books and blogs talk about it, but I’ve always been so skeptical about whether I could do it myself. Could I REALLY shift my mindset and get rid of my negative self-talk? I hope so. 

So I decided to layout a month-long self-love routine for myself that will help me heal in more ways that one. Here’s my month-long self-love practice!

Morning and Nighttime Skincare Routine – This one may seem very random, but when I got stuck in my rut I was extremely lazy and unmotivated. Throughout all my life I have always had a pretty involved skincare routine complete with oil, a cleansing, a toner, a serum, moisturizer, eye cream, and SPF. But when I felt so low, I could hardly bring myself to wash my face. Now, I’m making it a point to focus on my skin again first thing in the morning and at the end of the day as well. 

Moisturize – I recently came back with all of these gorgeous lotions and body products from my super spontaneous trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. So as part of my self-love practice, I will also make it a point to moisturize after a shower. As much as I hate the idea that people think self-love and self-care is PAMPERING because it’s NOT, I’ve been completely neglecting those things after I started to feel low. Adopting this simple act of pampering is just one way that I’m showing love and appreciation for myself by taking those few moments just to make myself feel good on the outside, which I believe can also make you feel good on the inside. 

Self Love Reflection – Next I’m incorporating a self-love reflection into the day whether it’s through stream of consciousness journaling or quietly reflecting on something that I love about myself or that I’m proud of. The point is to help me get rid of the negative self-talk by slowly replacing it with happier and more pleasant thoughts that lift me up. 

Affirmations – I’ll admit I’m super new to affirmations. I hadn’t come across any affirmations that spoke to me and I NEVER remembered to do them. But to me, it seemed too weird walking around my apartment throughout the day telling myself compliments as Allison recommended. I decided that as my way of “talking to myself” as she suggested, I would find a list of affirmations and I would say them aloud to myself and meditate on them. This way has been working well for me because I don’t have to think up what I want to say. I instead pick an affirmation for the day and repeat that affirmation until I feel like it’s sinking in. If I’m feeling extra motivated I will read through a list of affirmations or pick several. But either way I pick one affirmation for the day, repeat it for several minutes in the morning, and then make it a point to remind myself the affirmation throughout the day by writing it down in the morning and keeping it close by.

My absolute favorite list of affirmations that I discovered came from Peaceful Banyan Tree in an article titled, “20 Powerful Affirmations of All Time.” I LOVE this list because it covers positive thinking, health, confidence, self-worth, happiness, letting go, money, success, stress, and today. It hits on all of the areas that bring us full-body health and wellness. For that reason, this list has resonated with me and helped me choose my morning affirmation with ease.

  • I am able to find positivity in every situation.
  • I create only positive thoughts and radiate positivity.
  • I am getting stronger and healthier every day.
  • I am taking good care of my mental and physical health.
  • I am becoming a better version of myself every day.
  • I am confident to overcome any hurdles.
  • I know my self-worth and I am worthy of the best.
  • I believe in myself.
  • I am overflowing with happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
  • I choose happiness over doubt and fear.
  • I forgive myself and everyone else for all the mistakes.
  • I choose to release hurt and resentment.
  • I am a money magnet and attract money easily.
  • The universe is creating opportunities for me to earn more and more money.
  • I see success and abundance everywhere.
  • I am becoming more and more successful every day.
  • Every breath I take fills my soul with calmness and ease.
  • I am at peace now.
  • Today is the most beautiful day.
  • Today I lay the foundation for a wonderful future.

If you’d like some more ideas, make sure to check out my “Mantras” board on Pinterest @LostOnlineBlog.

Pray – After doing my morning affirmation, I decided that I would end with a prayer. I ask the universe to help me take the affirmation into the day, and for help in healing and becoming my highest self. I don’t have a script and what I say tends to vary each day. I always speak from the heart and say whatever feels good at the moment. This is my favorite part of my daily ritual because it makes me feel so at peace.

Supplements and Herbs – For the longest time I completely stopped taking my supplements or I would take them very randomly. But the thing is with supplements you have to take them for an extended period to actually receive and notice the benefit of it. For example, when I started taking biotin for my hair and nails, I didn’t notice how much it helped until at least three months later. Now, as part of my self-love practice, I’m making my supplements and my herbs one of my top priorities along with my formula from Tradition’s Herbal Clinic.

Audio Books – In the afternoon or evening that’s when I’ll be incorporating the audiobooks that were recommended to me. Whether it’s at the gym, in the afternoon when I’m done working, or as I’m getting ready for bed, this is where I’ll take the time to absorb all of that knowledge that my herbalists believe will help. So far I’ve listened to “The Four Agreements” and part of “The Fifth Agreement.” I like them so far because the advice is so simple, but I can see how if you adopt The Four Agreements you could be free from all of the dramas that cause us so much pain, and also have greater self-love. 

Gratitude – At this point, you all are very familiar with how much I believe in my gratitude practice, so I won’t rehash all the benefits again. You can check out my blog post, “My Daily Gratitude Practice,” or “Stream of Consciousness Journaling: The Benefits & How to Practice It.” But it should come as no surprise that when I started to feel so low that I could hardly get myself moving for the day, so of course I didn’t end up sticking to this ritual either. So I’m making it a point to reinstate gratitude in my day. 

Read – Whenever I fall into a funk, I always tend to start numbing with Netflix, which always makes me feel so much worse in the end. I feel as if I’m unproductive and lazy and like I didn’t accomplish anything important. I decided that as part of my self-love ritual I would stop watching shows and instead read in bed every night, not just when the mood strikes. I’m so happy that I’ve adopted this one because I already had so many great conversations with people over our shared love for the book that I’m reading right now: “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

Meditate – Last but not least is meditation. I’ve been following along with the happiness series on the Headspace app lately and it’s helped me to find some peace and serenity right before I go to bed and fall asleep. I’m such a night owl that usually the moment my head hits the pillow I’m 100% awake, but whenever I meditate before bed that’s not the case. I’ve adopted this last habit because not only will it help me feel a sense of calmness in my mind, but it will also help me to take care of myself by falling asleep at a reasonable hour and be able to wake up earlier than usual. 

How is it going?

It’s now been two weeks since I went to the herbal clinic and got my formula. I’ve been taking it every day aside from the days when I was in Pennsylvania and Ontario because I didn’t want to lose it or be questioned about my brown paper bag of herbs at the airport. I don’t know if the formula is what’s helping or if it’s a combination of self-love practices, supplements, herbs, and books.

I do feel much better than I did before though. I have finally pulled myself out of my latest funk and I’m hoping I’ll keep feeling this way for at least a few weeks. I think what is actually helping me the most is that I LOVE trying out wellness practices and products, so I don’t know if it’s their suggestions exactly, or if I’m just so excited to now be going to therapy and to get to test out all of these recommendations and share my experience. 

I have been feeling incredibly proud of myself though because I didn’t think I would be able to take so many recommendations from someone and incorporate it into my life with such ease. I mean really, I have a hard enough following my dentists one simple piece of advice – floss. But I really want to get better, so I’ve been doing everything! 

Lastly, I just wanted to share that this is how I’m treating my depression right now. I’m seeing a therapist, seeing an herbalist, and adopting self-love. I hope that you find some nuggets of wisdom in here that might help you, however, I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE treat depression by repeating affirmations or taking probiotics. Some people do need medication and some people have serious clinical depression and suicidal thoughts that an herbalist is not equipped to fix. If you’re suffering from depression I HIGHLY suggest that you see a doctor and a therapist. Just keep in mind that these things like rituals, books, and supplements can serve a purpose too, and I believe that trying a mixture of traditional and holistic recommendations will help you heal the fastest. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, thank you for reading and make sure to let me know you’re thoughts in the comments! I’m particularly interested to hear what people think about this post and how I’m going about healing myself. 

What are your thoughts about this post? Did you get any ideas from it? Have you had depression before? How did you go about treating it? What worked for you? Do you believe in going using a mixture of traditional and herbal treatments or do you believe one is better than the other?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Announcement: I’m Seeing a Therapist + How I Discovered I Had Depression & Why I’m THANKFUL For It

Self-Help

This week’s blog post is a bit different for me. If you’ve read Lost Online for a while, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that’ll I’ll occasionally write about announcements in my life like starting at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition – but never have I shared an announcement THIS personal. 

I’ve debated about sharing this so many times with mental illness being such a sensitive and personal topic but finally decided that keeping this a secret wouldn’t feel authentic. Because I am so passionate about self-help and wellness I really feel called to share my decision with you about seeing a therapist. Keeping such a big decision private (as someone who preaches self-help and wellness each and every week) just isn’t me. I like being honest on my website, even if it’s not always the cool thing to do. 

Very recently, after realizing that I had depression which wasn’t planning on leaving my side anytime soon, I decided to start seeing a therapist. For the first time in my life, I didn’t just entertain the idea or talk about it. I finally picked up my phone, actually made a call, and booked my first ever therapy appointment – a huge step that I wasn’t sure I would ever take. Since that day I keep giving myself mental praise, “Hell yeah, I actually f*cking did it. I took the first freaking step!” It’s not very often I feel proud of myself, but today I am. Up until this point, the idea of seeing a therapist seemed as terrifying to me as much as swimming with a Great White shark. 

So I wanted to come here today, as I normally do, to talk about what prompted me to finally start seeing a therapist NOW in hopes that it will inspire someone else who may be going through something similar and just needs to hear that they’re not alone.

The Build-Up

It’s been nine months since I first moved to St. Petersburg, Fla. with my boyfriend Matt. I could still remember how excited and thrilled I was that I finally graduated from college and was about to start a life with my partner. It was such an exciting time, picking out the decor, signing a lease, grocery shopping together! I was finally growing up and I could not wait. My entire life I looked forward to the day when all this would happen – when my life would start, when I’d have someone to come home to, when I’d finally be FREE to live as I please. I know it sounds crazy, but I honestly thought that once I moved out and had my own place life would be WONDERFUL. It would be perfect. It would be filled with travel, love, beauty, money, friends, adventure, rainbows, and unicorns. LOL. That’s not what happened. 

Here’s what actually happened: Since I first moved to this coast to sunny St. Pete, nothing happened as I expected. There’s been so many big life changes, decisions, and challenges that I didn’t see coming for the life of me. For the first time ever I was in a new town trying to make a life for myself without family or school providing some structure and support. I was alone having to make friends as an adult (which is surprisingly difficult). I’ve tried so many times to make friends with people only to be canceled on and stood up again and again.

I had to get used to a whole other family that’s now in my life with their own opinions and oh so many expectations. I’ve had to deal with WAY more family drama than you would expect both in my family and Matt’s. I’ve been pressured into buying a house before I was ready, with NO ONE around me respecting my feelings. I then fell in love with a house and had that dream taken away after we discovered a disturbing termite infestation and had to resend our offer. 

I felt real financial stress for the first time. I’ve felt the pressure to find a job while being asked every single day, “So did you find a job yet? How’s the job hunt going?” (Apparently, when you are job hunting, it’s the only thing you’re allowed to discuss with people.) I’ve been spewed so much unwarranted advice about job hunting from people who haven’t looked for a job in 20 years. 

I then had months of sleepless nights struggling with the decision to leave my full-time job to pursue what I wanted. Then, I got let go from another job, followed by months of working at home from my kitchen counter leading to a very isolated lifestyle because there’s no “blogger office” you can go into to hang out with people.

That’s not even including the health problems, friend drama, and family issues that are way too private to share online. But the biggest challenge of all – I can’t make one decision in life without someone feeling the need to intervene and share their two cents with me. Wherever I want to live, whichever house I live in, whichever dog I get, SOMEONE has an issue with it. I really believed that once I was on my own that I would be magically liberated from the opinions and judgment of others.

If this is what everyone meant by, “Wait until you get into the real world,” I finally understand what they mean.

That transition period from college to adulthood is extremely overwhelming, and then you throw in health problems, a new city, a new family, and financial stress and it’s no wonder I’ve been so anxious and depressed over the last nine months. There’s been A LOT going on, and those are just the bullet points. 

It reminds me of a quote I just saw on Instagram today that said, “Being an adult is just saying, ‘But things will slow down a bit again’ to yourself until you die.” I think that sentence wraps up the last nine months of my life perfectly. 

How I Discovered That I Had Depression 

All of that brings me to these past few months when I’ve felt so low, so defeated, so disrespected, so helpless that I just felt like, “What’s the point?” “Why even get up early, get a bunch of work done when life keeps handing me one shit sandwich after another?”

My depression stayed while the excitement, motivation, and inspiration fell away. I ended up spending way too many days over the last few months in sweat pants, greasy hair, exhausted for no apparent reason, not feeling like myself at all. So many days I felt lazy, unmotivated with overwhelming sadness or sometimes not feeling anything at all. Sometimes even just getting out of bed in the morning felt like going to war. It seemed impossible. What’s worse is that staying in bed turned into a vicious cycle where I felt guilty and disgusted with myself for not working and getting more done.

Once I was up, I couldn’t even bring myself to take care of myself, do work, eat well, or go to the gym. Some days I would binge on junk food for comfort, other days I wouldn’t eat a thing. Because of how low I felt, I isolated myself more and would hardly leave the apartment. 

It was about nine months of lead up and slowly feeling worse and worse until one day I realized: I don’t think this is normal. This doesn’t seem to be one of my typical “ruts” that might last a few days. It seems more serious than that. 

But I still wasn’t 100% convinced that I was experiencing depression. I thought that in order to be depressed you had to have suicidal thoughts or actions, which I don’t. I still want to live and continue to grow, I still have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, but I still felt terrible and sad most days. So, I became more and more curious about whether or not that’s what I’ve been experiencing. 

This eventually led me to into a google-searching black hole one night. I started looking up articles about how to tell if you have depression and found a long collection of articles that all had similar titles. Most of them said, “30 symptoms of depression,” “20 ways to tell if you have depression,” “12 secret symptoms of depression,” “15 little known side effects of depression.” You get the idea. Well, it turns out, I had ALL of the symptoms and “secret” side effects of depression, aside from one – bed sores.

It turns out that I had depression all along, and just didn’t realize it. It wasn’t until I had every symptom and checked with Google before I finally realized that’s what was going on. It was difficult to finally admit to myself that that’s what I’m going through, especially being someone who’s so immersed in self-help and wellness. I would love nothing more than to “fix” myself and be a perfect, shiny, glimmering example of health, happiness, self-love, and positivity for you. It also was somewhat of a relief though, because there have been too many times when Matt asks me for the third time in one night, “What’s wrong?” Followed by me saying, “I’m tired,” because I honestly don’t know what to say. 

Finally Seeking Help

There have been many times I should have seen a therapist throughout my life, but I never went through with it. I was way too scared to finally take the leap and I had so many irrational fears about what might happen if I actually DID see a therapist. I was afraid of being labeled or being viewed as a freak who couldn’t get their life together. I was scared that I might hear people say to me, “What the f*ck would you have to be depressed about?” Especially if it was my family saying those things. It would make me feel so guilty when they’ve worked so hard to give me the life that I have now. Seeing a therapist seemed almost unfair or even wrong. However, what terrified me the most was the thought of sitting across from a stranger and crying for an hour about my deepest and most personal issues. The thought of that still makes me cringe.

Even though I know SO many people who see therapists and talk about how much it’s helped them through depression, anxiety, family problems, and trauma, I couldn’t bring myself to do it for the longest time. Which only meant that the longer I put it off, the more I built it up in my mind and the scarier it seemed. 

But now here I am, a self-help and wellness blogger that spends days experiencing overwhelming sadness and not being able to get out of bed. I’ve read all the books, listened to all the podcasts, tried all the supplements, adopted all of the self-care rituals, and here I am – experiencing depression. It was that thought that FINALLY made me pick up my phone one day and seek out a therapist. There comes a point when if you experience depression, you can’t leave it up to random authors to play the role of your therapist for you, you need to actually talk with someone. 

So here I am at the start of my own therapy journey and I just had my consultation appointment today (as I’m writing this). After making that initial phone call and setting up my appointment, my fears surprisingly went away and were replaced with an emotion that I was NOT at all expecting: excitement. It appears that all of the overthinking that I did about whether I should or shouldn’t see a therapist for years made that initial phone call scarier than actually sitting down with someone. 

“The problem is not the problem. The problem is the incredible amount of overthinking you’re doing with the problem. Let it go and be free.” – unknown

Viewing Depression in a Positive Light 

Now that I’m finally taking a leap of faith and moving forward with a therapist I’m feeling very hopeful about what’s to come. It’s allowed me to reflect on the last 9 months without being so triggered by it and think about the advice that I wish I could give myself when I first moved to St. Petersburg. I put together three main takeaways that I want to share with you today so that it may reach someone else who needs need to hear this too.

1. Life goes in phases

There will be moments when you feel on top of the world and there will be moments when you’re feeling down. You’ll have the best days of your life, but there will still be the worst days. But as much as it sucks when you’re hurting and life keeps kicking you when you’re down, those times are necessary. It would be impossible to feel on top of the world all the time or else you wouldn’t appreciate it. If everything went your way you wouldn’t realize how special it was and would take it for granted. 

That’s why it’s important to honor the highs and the lows equally. To feel happy and grateful when things are going well and to trust that everything is working in your greatest favor when they are not. 

2. It’s always darkest before dawn

Just as I shared in my latest blog post, “How to Recognize Universal Signs, things falling apart of “bad” things happening is a good thing. A lot of the time, it’s actually the universe working in your favor. I believe that many of the good things that happen to us would be brought into fruition without something falling apart. Just like how you wouldn’t have met your soulmate unless you broke up with that douchebag you used to date in college!

I’m going to go ahead and quote myself for a minute, in case you haven’t read the last blog post yet.

“We can’t expand, fulfill our purpose, or become our highest selves if everything is going well and if everything was EASY. We can’t continue to improve and learn important lessons if everything is rainbows and unicorns all the time. We’d be way too comfortable. And if there’s one thing that I know in this world, it’s that you can’t grow inside your comfort zone…Challenges happen because it’s the universe pushing you to level up.” – Heather Ione Clark

It reminds me of one of my absolute favorite quotes in the world, from author J.K. Rowling: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” If it wasn’t for her challenges, the world would have never been blessed with the magical, wizarding world of Harry Potter!

But just as much as I believe that challenging times happen to us so that we can reach our soul’s purpose, I also believe that the rough periods are happening to us for another reason. We all have lessons that we’re meant to learn in this lifetime so that we can evolve and become our highest selves. Even though it’s much easier to take the victim mentality, instead look at it from the perspective of, “What can I learn from this?”

When I take this healthier and more positive perspective, I’m able to understand that this depression I’ve been experiencing is happening for a greater purpose – it will help me to grow, finally address traumas that I haven’t let go of, and it will help me to inspire others to seek help too. 

3. It’s ok to not be ok

It’s ok if you’re not always feeling “#blessed” like how you are in your Instagram captions. Let’s be honest, we all have crap days and years that don’t quite go how we imagined they would. And that’s ok. I don’t think I’ve met one person who didn’t struggle with some trauma, whether it be a broken relationship with a parent, a sexual assault, or an eating disorder. We all have our things.

When I first decided to see a therapist, I debated not sharing this with you. I didn’t want to admit that even I feel the need to see a therapist. Because I’m a self-help and wellness writer, I should be 100% ok, right? False. Even your super hot personal trainer eats cake sometimes. We’re all human here. 

But I’m sharing this because although this blog is all about self-help, health, and wellness, I’m not claiming to be PERFECT. I’m not claiming to have it all figured out. This is about my journey, my advice that I learn along the way, and above all – transparency. Sharing the not so gram-able moments about my life in hopes to help someone else. Because I know other young women just like me share the same challenges, and I want them to know that it’s ok to NOT be ok. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope you enjoyed this week’s post and it helped you to reflect on your own experience. Lastly, I just want to say that if you’re having a similar experience as me, don’t be afraid to make the call. Those few minutes it takes to call someone are scarier than actually sitting down and talking things out. Trust me, you will be so happy and so proud of yourself that you took the first step. 

“At any given moment we have two choices: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” – Abraham Maslow

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you recently taken the first step to see a therapist? Do you currently see a therapist? Looking back at the time of your life when you decided to seek help, what are some of your own takeaways? What advice would you give to others who are going through a hard time? Do you believe that “bad” things happen for a reason? Do you believe that we’re meant to learn something from moments like this? Even if you don’t AND even if you haven’t seen a therapist, let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

How To Recognize Universal Signs

Spirituality

I came across a funny meme the other day on social media that said: “When you’re waiting to hear back from the universe about that big request you just made…” With a bunch of pictures of a guy not doing anything and staring blankly into the distance while sitting at his kitchen table, on a bench, or standing on the street. I’m not really one for memes anymore, but this one had me dying of laughter the moment I saw it. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve prayed and asked for something and sat around twirling my thumbs waiting for the universe to bless me instantaneously. But of course, it doesn’t work like that!

As you already know from my recent blog post, “How I Transformed my Life with the Law of Attraction: My 8 Powerful Manifestation Techniques and What I Learned From It,” I’m a HUGE believer in the Law of Attraction. I’ve used it to manifest trips, money, material possessions, my partner and the work that I’m doing now.

However, many people have NOT had this same experience. Why? Because we live in a time of instant gratification. We can heat up our food in 45 seconds, summon our favorite TV show with the click of a button, tweet our thoughts out to the entire world whenever the mood strikes. We’ve become so freaking spoiled and so used to getting WHATEVER we want IMMEDIATELY when we want it. Which means that when many people are trying to manifest their dream life with prayers and visualization, they expect even those things to happen immediately too. (Trust me, I’m not above this myself.)

We expect our magical and mysterious universe to have “freaky fast delivery” as if it’s a damn Jimmy Johns restaurant chain. The biggest mistake that people make is they give up on their dreams before they even have a chance to manifest because we’ve become so ridiculously impatient – and that is where recognizing universal signs comes into play.

If you’re a spiritual person just like I am, and you’re trying to manifest something or have a prayer answered, you’re going to want to get used to noticing the signs that the universe is giving you. Not only will it give you hope that everything you ask for is coming your way so you don’t lose faith, but it also helps you find peace in the meantime. That way, you won’t end up like that meme.

Even though the universe might not answer our prayers in 45 seconds, it does always stay in touch with us. In fact, universal signs, synchronicities and coincidences are around us everywhere we look. They’re surrounding us constantly, to the point that we don’t even notice them. Because we’re surrounded by the magic of the universe throughout our entire lives that you could say we’re like fish in water. A fish doesn’t know that it’s in water, because water is ALL that it knows. 

Although it’s impossible to recognize every single sign, and every single action the universe is putting into motion to help us evolve, it is possible to exercise your ability to recognize signs and get better at it. I will say that I’m no expert on the universe because I don’t believe that any of us are. However, I have exercised that muscle over the last six years and have learned to spot little moments in the day that show me that the universe is on my side and everything is working out in my favor. 

Here are the top TEN universal signs that I’ve learned to spot and how you can recognize them in your life too! And if you have any signs that you’ve discovered in your life be sure to comment below and let me know what they are!

1. Meaningful coincidences

The number one universal sign that I’ve learned to spot is meaningful coincidences.

Psychologist Carl Jung was the first person who introduced this concept calling these occurrences “synchronicities,” “meaningful coincidences,” or “a-causal parallelism.” However, this phenomenon has actually been known for thousands of years by our ancestors before modern science came around and we all became skeptics who couldn’t believe something unless we could see it, feel it, study it and prove it. 

Jung introduced this concept in the 1920’s and then went on to write books and papers about the subject, describing it as “the underlying cosmic intelligence that synchronizes people, places and events into a meaningful order,” and “the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.”

This concept also gained popularity thanks to one of my all-time favorite books, “The Celestine Prophecy.” This book is a New Age spirituality book, where the main character goes through an epic adventure and journey through Peru to discover and understand nine spiritual insights required to reach enlightenment which all stems from a moment in his life when he starts to recognize instances of synchronicity. 

“Have you ever had a hunch or intuition concerning something you wanted to do? Some course you wanted to take in your life? And wondered how it might happen? And then, after you had half forgotten about it and focused on other things, you suddenly met someone or read something or went somewhere that led to the very opportunity you envisioned?”

-James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy

Everyone has these experiences. However, highly sensitive people are more likely to experience such coincidences since we are more tuned to and aware of what’s going on around us. I’ve been noticing this happen to me ever since I was in middle school. I’ll be thinking of someone when suddenly they’ll call me, or I’ll be thinking of a movie and then turn to the TV and it’s on, or I’ll be going around working through the day to suddenly realize that someone else has been making the same stops to all the businesses that I have. 

If you’re hoping to start picking up on universal signs, start with this one. Become more aware of your environment, the people, the conversations you have. Then, begin by opening up a note on your phone or carrying a small notebook with you and jotting down the coincidences you see happening. Devoting your attention to that moment enough to write about it and remember it will strengthen your ability to notice synchronicity wherever you go. 

2. Familiar faces and names 

This next one is also mentioned in “The Celestine Prophecy” as well and is considered to be another meaningful coincidence. Have you ever been walking around and noticed someone that looked extremely familiar to you or had the same name as a close friend? When the universe is sending you signs, you might start to notice that everyone walking around in public has a familiarity to them, even if you’ve never seen them before in your entire life.

When I started picking up universal signs I saw this constantly. Walking around, everyone seemed to resemble someone that I knew. There were countless times where I would meet someone new and they seemed so familiar to me as if I had met them before. It was a feeling of deja vu, but it was always with other people. I wouldn’t experience deja vu at any other point, but when I would see random people walking around, I would feel it. At one point, I even went to a book club meeting to discover that three of the women there were named Kelly (my mom’s name), Penny (my grandma’s name on my mother’s side), and Joanne (my grandma’s name on my father’s side). 

If you’re waiting for a “sign” from the universe, you’re trying to manifest something, or you’re in a transition period of your life, you’ll most likely notice this in the people in your environment. You’ll hear the same names, see the same faces and recognize people with the same body language of someone you love.

I personally believe that this happens because when you’re in the right vibrational frequency to manifest and you’re connected to the higher power (whatever that is for you) you start to pick up on the fact that we are all one. We are all connected on a cosmic level and everywhere you go, people will feel like a long-lost friend. 

3. Messages through song

If you’re super lucky, you’ll experience messages through song, which is one of my favorite universal signs because it’s so clear and unambiguous. You’ll be thinking about something that you want to do or maybe something that’s worrying you, and suddenly a song will come on with the exact messages you needed to hear. 

I will never forget one day in the car when I was thinking about something that I wanted to do, and a song came on that answered every doubt and every worry that I had, and was so accurate to my situation that it was like I was having a conversation with someone about what I was thinking.

Many people would choose to ignore when this is happening, but when you’re waiting for something to happen or asking for a sign from the universe, it will answer you through your environment and music is one of the easiest ways to communicate that to you because you’re already listening. If this does happen to you, make sure to listen carefully to the lyrics and replay the song to make sure you clearly comprehended the message. 

4. Your inner dialog

The next way the universe will send you signs and try to guide you is through your own voice. You know that voice inside your head that tells you you have to do laundry, or go to the bank, or pick up more toothpaste, or talks non stop when you’re trying to figure out what to wear in the morning? That’s the voice I’m talking about. We all have that inner voice and that inner monologue, BUT sometimes it’s not exactly ours.

If you take the time to meditate, get still, and silence your mind, you may be lucky enough to hear a message in your voice. Some people call this their higher self, the universe, God, or spirit guides. It’s how we channel messages from a higher power when we need a sense of direction. Many people have experienced this voice tell them to take some action and some have even said that it’s predicted their future.

When this happens, we’re simply channeling information from something outside of ourselves. If you’re new to this, I wouldn’t think too much about it though. Come into meditation for several minutes and ask a question out loud or in your head that you want the answer to. If you’re like me, your brain might want to start thinking about the answer or the solution, but don’t allow your thoughts to wander. Focus on your breath or do a full-body scan, and eventually, you may notice little words of wisdom, advice, or insights suddenly popping into your mind. They’re different for everyone, but I find that the messages are often very short, maybe only a few words in length, and they won’t be thought out. There will be no reasoning behind them, and they will simply appear in your head. 

You may also notice this happening even when you’re not trying to channel it through meditation. Sometimes that voice pops in your head as you’re going about your day, or maybe when you’re going through a difficult time, or in a state of flow. It’s often hard to recognize as a download because it comes to you in your own voice, but those messages are important to pay attention to. 

5. Your visualizations appearing

Another universal sign to look out for is your visualizations appearing in front of you. This one is really similar to manifestation, which we associate with getting something that you want in life. However, for this universal sign, you will notice visualizations that you’ve been thinking about appearing in your surrounding environment. Maybe you keep having this vivid visualization of a park, or the sky, or a tree, or a body of water and suddenly, you’ll notice that exact same image you’ve been seeing in your head actually show up in your environment.

The first time this has ever happened to me it was so surprising because I was thinking about this same image for weeks and thinking that I wanted to make it a book cover someday. Suddenly, I saw the image I’d been holding in my mind in real life. Also at this exact same moment, that’s when I was receiving a message through song that I’ve mentioned before.

If you’re looking for comfort and universal signs, make sure to look beyond yourself and pay close attention to the nature that surrounds you. 

6. A feeling of home

Another universal sign that you’ll find when you’re in alignment is a feeling of being home, being complete, being content, or at peace. It’s so incredibly comforting and relaxing because it’s a feeling of being exactly where you need to be. Your mind isn’t racing, you’re not anxious and you feel relaxed. You may feel this way when walking through nature, or walking through the halls of a business you’re interviewing at, or on a plane going somewhere, or after you’ve done your spiritual practice. That feeling of being at home, even when you’re NOT actually at home, is the feeling of being in alignment and being at the right vibrational frequency to receive.

When you do have this feeling, it’s often accompanied by coincidence and synchronicities surrounding you. Let’s say you have this feeling when you first walk into a coffee shop. You may start to notice that someone else in that coffee shop has the same breed of dog that you do, there’s a picture on the wall of something that relates to your childhood, and the barista has the same name as your mom. Or maybe your favorite song will come on or the person sitting at a table is reading a book that you’re read before or have been meaning to read.

Whenever that happens to me, I always feel so at peace and happy and overwhelmed with the possibilities and the mystery of the universe. Make sure to savor each of those feelings that you’re having and each one of those coincidences and use that as an opportunity to practice gratitude or visualization. At that moment, you are in the exact right frequency you need to be in and the universe is showing you through every aspect of your environment that you’re in alignment and you’re exactly where you need to be.

7. Timing

Timing is one universal sign that we all LOVE given how impatient we’ve become because it’s when things are happening to us in a way that’s so convenient. It’s when things are flowing so effortlessly and naturally without us trying to make it happen. It’s just like when you get in your car to go to an appointment and magically catch every single green light between your house and your doctor’s office. This could happen to you throughout the day in a bunch of little ways, or it could happen to you around big life events.

Let’s say you meet someone at a coffee shop who’s looking for a person just like you to fill an open position, you two get to talking, and by the following week, you’ve landed a position at a dream job. It wasn’t forced in any way. You didn’t have to fight for the employer’s attention. You simply met someone, acted like yourself, went on an interview and found that there was such compatibility between you and the employer. It all worked out flawlessly. Even people who don’t believe in universal signs and a magical universe that has our backs will find themselves chatting everyone up about how “everything happens for a reason.” You’ll notice the universal sign of timing when everything is flowing naturally without resistance. Even if you don’t exactly have what you want YET, the universe is clearly setting things up in your favor.

8. Your personal signs

Once you have strengthened your ability to recognize universal signs, you’ll start to see signs that are unique to you. We all have own very own symbols that keep showing up especially when we are more enlightened and connected to the higher power. That’s the universe sending you your very own message.

It took me a few years before I figured out what my signs are and before that, I didn’t even notice that we could have signs unique to us that continue to show up throughout our lives. Eventually, after years of practicing the law of attraction and spirituality, I started to notice that I would always see yellow butterflies, hawks, shooting stars, and cardinals whenever I was in alignment and before I started to receive the things that I wanted. I would notice this especially after I did my spiritual practice and visualization. When I was outside, or even if I just looked out my window, I would see all of these things. I also noticed that if I put myself in a state of flow and used my creativity more than normal, I see shooting stars constantly. 

You may also notice difference animals appearing in front of you regularly. Maybe you’ve never seen a woodpecker and now you see one all the time. Whenever you see something in your environment out of the ordinary that sticks out to you, take the time to reflect on it, and maybe even look up the meaning of certain symbols that you’re seeing. 

9. Repeating numbers 

The most common universal sign that people talk about is repeating numbers, particularly sets of three repeating numbers. Many people call these angel numbers and believe it’s their guardian angels trying to communicate with them. I like to think that it’s the universe or my higher self. Whatever you call it, seeing repeating numbers follow you around is a good thing. It’s how a higher power that often sends us warnings, comfort, and hope. 

Seeing repeating numbers could have a unique meaning to you, but generally, meanings already apply to each number. The more repeating numbers you see in your environment, the more the universe wants you to hear the message. Similarly, the more numbers you see repeating together means the stronger it is. For example, seeing the number 7777777, is a stronger and more powerful message than 77 or 777. Also, seeing two numbers that repeat together, such as 4141, also have their own unique meaning. You can often look at the meaning behind each of the two numbers and combine them to determine what the larger message is. Here are the general meanings of repeating numbers below:

  • 111 – Your intentions are manifesting quickly.
  • 222 – Relax and trust that you’re on the right path. This number also represents partnerships or connections and could mean that you’ve found your soulmate. 
  • 333 – You’re being helped with something that you’re working on.
  • 444 – You’re being guided through whatever you’re focusing on. You’re protected.
  • 555 – Huge changes are coming your way. A major transition is coming, the more 5’s the more impactful it is.
  • 666 – Your thoughts need refocusing. Don’t be dragged too far into the worldly illusion and focusing too much on material things.
  • 777 – Luck is on your side. The universe is congratulating you for your right choices. 
  • 888 – Financial abundance is coming. You’re progressing well. You’re coming into your power.
  • 999 – You’re being nudged to finish something that you have yet to complete.
  • 1111 – You’re on the right path. Keep doing what you’re doing. You’re becoming enlightened
  • 000 – Represents a fresh start and new beginnings. It’s also a reminder that you create your own destiny.

Looking at the meaning of different numbers now makes a lot of sense. I remember when I decided to leave my full-time job to pursue content creation, I was seeing 11:11, 222, 7777, and 555 everywhere I went, even though I didn’t understand what those numbers meant. Now, I can see that I was receiving the message that I was on the right path, I should relax and trust that path. The universe was also congratulating me on taking that step and letting me know that major changes awaited me. 

Pay close attention too if you’re driving around or going about your day and suddenly you start to see 1111 or 222 everywhere you go. Seeing a number regularly means that you have to pay attention to it. It’s not a coincidence seeing your bill at a cafe was $5.55, you looked at your clock when it was 5:55 pm, you have to take exit 55, and you go to a friends house where the address is 55. 

You’re meant to infer a message from it. Different numbers also mean different things to everyone, so 222 might be something different for me than it does for you, and that’s ok. The important thing is that you’re paying attention. 

10. Things falling apart

This last one is a little bit bigger and not nearly as comforting as the other signs, but I absolutely HAD to mention this one because it’s so important – things falling apart or “bad” things happening to you. I saved this one for last because it’s the one universal sign that I’ve noticed that isn’t fun at all, however, it’s so necessary and it mustn’t be passed off as a sh*tty day. 

If you’re a spiritual person, then you probably react the same way that I do when something bad happens to me. I think, “How on earth could THIS be happening to ME? I’m a good person, I’m spiritual, I try my best, I’m pursuing a dream even though it’s hard as all hell. Why would this terrible thing be happening to ME? I listen to the universe and follow my dharma and THIS is how it repays me?” I immediately fall into a victim mentality. But after this happened to me for pretty much all of 2019, I’ve finally learned to understand that even the sh*tty things that happen to us are universal signs. They’re the universe playing tough love on us and working in our favor.

Why? Because we can’t expand, fulfill our purpose, or become our highest selves if everything is going well and if everything was EASY. We can’t continue to improve and learn important lessons if everything is rainbows and unicorns all the time. We’d be way too comfortable. And if there’s one thing that I know in this world, it’s that you can’t grow inside your comfort zone. 

Challenges happen because it’s the universe pushing you to level up. This happened to me a few different times this year. Something really bad had to happen to me to push me to do something that I’ve been talking about since I was a teenager! I kept talking and talking and talking about how I was going to do these THREE different things for a very long time. And it took something “bad” happening to me and something falling apart in my life to finally push me to take action. It showed me that things fall apart to make room for something better. 

Think about it, hasn’t there been a time when you felt so horrible and devastated that something happened (like breaking up with an ex, but years later you look back on it and think “Thank God that happened to me! I needed that to happen in order to __(fill in the blank)__.” Things have to dissolve, breakaway, and fall apart in order for something new to come into fruition. Just like how there couldn’t be life without death. So while those other nine signs might be easy and fun to spot, remember to keep this last one in mind. 

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

I really hope this post was helpful and allows you to spot universal signs in your life with a little bit more ease. Don’t get too distracted by spotting the signs or spend all day waiting for them to show up and give you that inner comfort, but do pay attention to your surroundings. Know that there’s something bigger beyond all of us that is carefully working to bring us closer to accomplishing what we came into this lifetime to create. Have faith. 

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Have you spotted these universal signs in your life too? What are some examples? Do you have any other universal signs that you’ve recognized that I didn’t include on this list? What are they? What did you learn from them?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Why We Self Sabotage & How to Recognize The Signs

Self-Help

Take a good, long look at the main image for this post. It’s definitely visually interesting and catches your eye for sure, but it’s more than just a cool picture. If you look closely in the background, you will be able to see some of the examples of how I personally self-sabotage. Like the crumpled and empty bag of chips: the go-to food that I binge on when I really want to feel like garbage. Or the Apple Watch left on the charger when I’ve given up on working out. Or the Amazon boxes representing how I often online shop to make myself feel better (even though I always end up feeling guilty afterwards).

I write about self-sabotage because I have become so familiar with it. I’ve walked through life hand and hand with self-sabotage for a VERY long time without even realizing it. It wasn’t until the last two years when I really started to understand what self-sabotage was and the impact that it had on my life. Since then, I’ve become much more aware of how to recognize the signs of self-sabotage before it starts to control me.

So, what is self-sabotage?

Self-sabotage is deciding what you want and then doing everything that you can to make sure that it doesn’t happen for you. It’s knowing exactly what you need to improve yourself and make yourself happier, but not doing it. It’s staying in your comfort zone because it’s safe and familiar even though you want to change your life. Self-sabotage is always VERY sneaky and can easily go unnoticed as it often takes the shape of prostration or perfectionism, which means that most of the time we don’t even realize that we’re doing it.

Although it might be hard to spot, it’s the absolute worst place you could be in. Self-sabotage is like putting yourself in a prison and taking away your opportunity to grow and explore in virtually every way. It interferes with every aspect of your life and as a result, it keeps you from accomplishing life-long goals. 

Self-sabotage is pretty straight forward: you want one thing, but you do the exact opposite in efforts to keep yourself from making progress. It could be binge-watching Netflix and eating junk food even though you want more than anything to be in shape. Or it could be waiting years for the “perfect” moment to start a blog or a business.

It’s something that you do subconsciously every day to the point where it becomes automatic. But the problem isn’t just that one night you decided to reach for ice cream and cookies out of comfort. The problem is that slowly those little moments build up over time and drastically change your life. Those hundreds of days of unhealthy eating and bingeing become an extra 50 pounds. That choosing to never leave your job and start a business means never being the entrepreneur you’ve always dreamed you’d be. The very real danger of self-sabotage is that someday you could look back on your life disappointed and discontent. You’ll look back and know that you never did get in shape, write that book, build that business, travel the world, or learn another language and wonder why.

So, why then? Why would we sabotage our OWN efforts throughout our lives and prevent the very things from happening that we want most? Well, it’s not that we’re masochists that want to see ourselves suffer for the joy of it.

What causes self-sabotage?

I recently started reading the book The Four Agreements,” by Don Miguel Ruiz which helped to give me some insight about what causes self-sabotage in the first place. Bare with me until the end, because I swear this comes full circle. 

In the earlier parts of “The Four Agreements,” Ruiz discusses how we as children, from the moment we are born, we are domesticated just like animals. We don’t grow up having the opportunity to choose what we want to believe. We are told what to believe. We are taken under the wing of our parents, teachers, neighbors, or church, and taught the beliefs of the adults around us. We are taught the beliefs, the stories, and the opinions of our community and how we should view the world.

We were taught the names of everything based on the language of the adults in our lives; we were taught what we should believe about history; how we should dress; what we should eat; what holidays we should celebrate and how we should celebrate them; how we should connect with a higher power; what political party to affiliate with; and above all – how to behave. Then we were rewarded or punished based on how “good” we were. The reward is the attention that we receive from other people when we make them happy. We are rewarded many times throughout the day and punished many times throughout the day. But the reward feels good so we keep doing what’s expected of us.

For example, if you were a good girl or boy all year round, you got a stocking at Christmas filled with toys. If you played baseball and got home runs, your parents clapped excitedly with pride in their eyes. But just as you were rewarded for being “good,” you were also punished for being “bad.” The punishment was receiving anger and disappointment or even worse – being ignored. Like if you told your devoted Catholic parents that you didn’t want to go to church. This happened at any time, for any reason, in countless little moments throughout our upbringing. 

As children, we try to please mom and dad, our teaches, our peers, or the church and so we start acting out of fear of being punished which usually manifests as rejection. Eventually, we become a copy of mom’s beliefs, dad’s beliefs, teacher’s beliefs, society’s beliefs, and friends’ beliefs. And we believe things like: women are supposed to be caretakers, men are supposed to be breadwinners, you have to be successful in life by making a six-figure income, you have to be beautiful and grow your hair out for boys to like you, you must go to college, travel is a waste of money, etc. 

As children we couldn’t choose our values, morals, and beliefs, we could only agree with the information that was passed on to us – we could only make an agreement. We agree with that information, we store it, we embody it and that information slowly becomes a belief system that controls our entire lives. Eventually, the domestication is so successful that we don’t need anyone to domesticate us. We do it ourselves. It becomes automatic that we do certain things in life, behave a certain way, dress a certain way because that’s what makes other people approve.

As Ruiz puts it, “The human mind is like a fertile ground where seeds are continually being planted. The seeds are opinions, ideas, and concepts. You plant a seed, a thought, and it grows.”

During this domestication process as children, our family and the people around us gave their opinions about us without even thinking or understanding the impact that their words could have. They planted a seed in our minds and it grew. We believed theses opinions and lived in fear of the opinions because they meant that we were not good enough. If you don’t believe me, talk to any woman who was told as a 13-year-old-girl by some boy at school that she was hideous and unattractive. Ask her how that impacted her. Ask any therapist if what people say to us as we’re growing up causes us to develop an opinion about ourselves. Of course, it does.

Words are powerful. They have the ability to drastically change a person’s opinion about the world and about themselves, especially when that person is a child or a teenager. They internalize everything that happens to them – their entire perspective and life story is based on it. 

But it’s not just what children hear about them that plants seeds. We also are affected by the negative thoughts that parents or other adults have about themselves or others as we are growing up. For example, if the women in your family are self-conscious about their looks and their weight and talk about it around you a lot, this will give you ideas about what makes a person’s body perfect or ugly. Hearing negative things about how people look or how they should look better creates an idea about what YOU should look like to be accepted.

Why do we self-sabotage?

This is how self-sabotage starts to come into play. Ruiz put it so well in “The Four Agreements” when he wrote…

“During the process of domestication, we form an image of what perfection is in order to try to be good enough. We create an image of how we should be in order to be accepted by everybody. We especially try to please the ones who love us, like Mom and Dad, big brothers and sisters, the priests and the teacher. Trying to be good enough for them, we create an image of perception, but we don’t fit this image. We create this image, but this image is not real. We are never going to be perfect from this point of view…Not being perfect, we reject ourselves. And the level of self-rejection depends upon how effective the adults were in breaking our integrity. After domestication is no longer about being good enough for anyone else. We are not good enough for ourselves because we don’t fit with our image of perfection. We cannot forgive ourselves for not being what we wish to be, or rather what we believe we should be. We cannot forgive ourselves for not being perfect.”

That is why we self-sabotage. Through our environment, we heard hundreds of thousands of other people’s ideas, standards, conversations, comments, and compliments and we develop our own idea about how we should be to be perfect. We got lost in all of the outside beliefs and we got the idea that we were NOT that. That we are flawed and unworthy. And that as much as we want to be happy, healthy, vibrant, loved, fulfilled – we don’t deserve it.

For that reason, we sabotage our own efforts. Who are we to deserve to be healthy and happy? Who are we to have all of our dreams come true? We don’t deserve it. We’re not ___(fill in the blank)___ enough. So we get in our own way. We prevent ourselves from growing, improving, and moving forward because we don’t see ourselves as the perfect person who is truly deserving of those accomplishments. We self sabotage slowly over many years, and sometimes even a lifetime, preventing the very things from happening that we want the most.

However, as toxic as self-sabotage can be, it’s also 100% preventable. It’s never too late to realize what we’re doing and make changes. It’s never too late to become a better version of ourselves and get out of our own way. The other great thing about self-sabotage is that once you realize that you’re doing it, it’s easy to stop. You realize how your subconscious mind is controlling your life and you become aware enough to make better choices. Suddenly it seems ridiculous that you would ever consider doing those things to yourself.

Recognizing Self Sabotage 

With that in mind, I put together a list of 11 ways that we self-sabotage so that next time you’re doing these things without thinking you can catch yourself in the act and make a change. You can decide at that moment to avoid the self-destructive and sabotaging behavior and instead choose to operate from a place of self-worth and self-respect. Take a look …

1. Procrastination

Of course, I had to mention procrastination first because it’s something that we are all incredibly guilty of. It’s also something that you can do disguised as something productive. I remember whenever I had to work on a super important project in school, suddenly THAT was the time I felt motivated to spend an hour and a half at the gym or to remove EVERYTHING from my closet Marie Kondo style, donate half my clothes, and then reorganize. But no way would I want to do those things at any other point. One of my absolute favorite parts of the book You Are A Badass,” by Jen Sincero is from her chapter “Procrastination, Perfection, and a Polish Beer Garden,” where she writes… 

“Procrastination is one of the most popular forms of self-sabotage because it’s so easy. There are so many fun things you can do in order to procrastinate, and there’s no lack of other people who are totally psyched to procrastinate with you. And while it can be super fun in the moment, eventually the naughtiness buzz wears off and you’re sitting there a few years later, feeling like a loser, wondering why the hell you still haven’t gotten your act together. And why other people you know are getting big fat promotions at their jobs or taking trips around the world or talking about the latest orphanage they’ve opened in Cambodia on NPR.”

Remember that next time you find yourself putting off something that you have to do for your number one dream in life and suddenly that naughtiness buzz won’t feel so good anymore. 

2. Hesitation

The second most popular way that we self-sabotage is by something that seems 100% harmless, and it’s hesitation. Like hesitating to start the business that you want and thinking it over for months, if not years, weighing the risks in your head again and again. Hesitating to book that two-month trip to Southeast Asia you’ve been saying you were going to do since you were 14. Hesitating to pay for that program that you know will help you level up in your career. Hesitating to create that Match.com profile when you’ve been single for years and all you want is to find someone you could spend your life with.

In a way, hesitation is very similar to procrastination but it’s your brain’s way of trying to protect you because that thing that you want to do for your own growth, expansion, and happiness is foreign. And your brain HATES anything unfamiliar. It’s much easier and appears much more pleasant to stay in your comfort zone and not do that thing, but you know that the only person it’s hurting is you. Anyone who has grown mentally, physically, or spiritually will tell you that it wasn’t comfortable, but it was worth it. 

3. Perfectionism 

Perfectionism, my number one favorite way to self-sabotage. I’m so guilty of needing everything to be flawless in order to move forward, especially when it comes to my website and my brand. If something is not completely perfect in my mind, it’s garbage. Like right now, it kills me that my website is not absolutely professional and flawless in my eyes.

But the truth is, “perfect” is a made-up concept, and every single person’s idea of perfect is entirely different based on their own experiences, opinions, and preferences. I know this because I once showed my resume to over 20 people before I sent it off to employers and not a single one of them agreed on what makes a “perfect” resume. They all had entirely different opinions on wording, formatting, or content. After months of showing it to each one of my professors, several women at the career center, my peers, and professionals in the industry, I finally understood for the first time that perfect is bullsh*t. Every single person has a different idea about what perfect is and that made-up idea of our own concept of perfection is completely unattainable. Needing something to be flawless does nothing at the end of the day but keep you in place and prevent you from moving forward because there will always be something that you need to improve.

DONE is far better than perfect. By getting something DONE rather than trying to make it perfect you are getting out of your own way and taking the first step towards accomplishing your bigger goals in life. Twenty YouTube videos published is far better than spending months creating one “perfect” video. A month of showing up to the gym but not having your “best” workouts is far better than killing it in the gym once. It’s far better to focus on getting things done and on making incremental improvements over time.

4. Setting unrealistic goals 

Another way that we sabotage ourselves is by setting goals and deadlines that are nearly impossible to achieve. Like setting a goal to build your entire website in one weekend, apply to 25 jobs, finish the book you just started last night, finish a project, and go vegan. We set goals that are so difficult to accomplish in such a short time period that we are bound to fail – further proving to ourselves that we do in fact suck and don’t deserve the things that would make us happy.

I do this one to myself so often, it should be called pulling a Heather. I love to put so much on my plate that it’s impossible to keep up with. But this one can easily go unnoticed too because it can be disguised as being motivated. It can appear that we’re just “go-getters” that want to be successful. Maybe some people can accomplish all of those things in a short period of time. Some people do in fact work well under pressure. But it’s a clear sign of self-sabotage if you find yourself setting big goals for yourself left and right and then being unable to follow through with any of them. 

5. Negative self-talk

Do you know that little voice in your head that tells you terrible things about yourself and is hypercritical of everything you do? That’s your negative self-talk. And while it may seem harmless because it lives inside your head and isn’t noticed by anyone else, it is truly harmful. Negative self-talk will subtly undermine everything that you’re trying to do. It convinces you that you’re not talented enough, smart enough and pretty enough, and prevents you from reaching your potential by convincing yourself that you’re not good enough to do it. That you might as well not even try. This form of self-sabotage is especially sneaky because it could cause all of the other forms on this list: hesitation, perfectionism, comparison, EVERYTHING.

My favorite writer and number one girl crush, Elizabeth Gilbert, wrote in her book “Eat Pray Love,” “You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select what clothes you’re gonna wear every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can’t learn to master your thinking, you’re in deep trouble forever.”

6. Self-comparison 

Self-comparison is one form of self-sabotage that is SUPER hard for anyone to avoid when we live in a time where we have social media and have access to everyone else’s highlights and accomplishments 24/7. Comparing yourself to someone else is allowing yourself to get so wrapped up in someone else’s life that it makes you blind to your own progress, accomplishments, or highlights.

I do this to myself all the time. I compare myself to the women that I admire the most in the world who all have created successful blogs, books, and podcasts. Many of them even became millionaires simply making a career for themselves sharing what they’re passionate about. For example, I’ll catch myself comparing my own journey with my blog to the life of Jenna Kutcher (one of the most successful bloggers in the world). I’ll compare how many posts I’ve written, how my website looks, or how big of a following I have, while completely becoming blind to the fact that I’m improving as a content creator EVERY WEEK. 

The problem with self-comparison is that someone else’s perfection is an illusion and we have no clue about the challenges or rejection that person had to face to get where they are or what they have today. So focusing on someone else’s comparison is nothing but a big waste of time. Because not only do people not share their hardships but comparing yourself to someone else does nothing but drain you and fuel the negative self-talk. That energy would be spent so much better by working on yourself.

Next time you catch yourself comparing yourself to another person, refocus your energy to how you can improve yourself. Catch yourself comparing your body to someone else’s body? Put your sneakers on and your AirPods in and go to the gym. Find yourself comparing yourself to someone who just published a book? Start writing YOURS or brainstorm ideas or start learning how to self publish. Stop sabotaging and start DOING. 

7. Not trusting yourself 

This form of self-sabotage stems from the fact that we’ve all been consuming information since the day we were born and hearing other people’s opinions and beliefs whether we want to or not. So it can be the most difficult thing in the world to trust YOURSELF. It’s so easy to trust your parents, neighbors, co-workers, and friends opinions about how you should live but it’s not easy to trust ourselves. 

It’s unfortunate that we are the one person who understands our values, needs, and beliefs more than anyone else, yet we’ve been programmed to distrust our own abilities and our own instincts. Our own thoughts are useless while we get hung up on others. This is extremely self-sabotaging because even though you may know that college is not the right path for you, or that your dream is to move across the world, or that you’ve found your soul mate, you don’t trust that instinct and do the exact opposite. You end up living in a house that’s not right for you, but your parents approve of it. You end up going to college when you’ve always wanted to go to cosmetology school. Or you end up living in the middle of nowhere when you’ve known your entire life you want to live in a big city. Not trusting yourself and your own feelings, you end up creating your life for other people. And while they may be pleased and you have to listen to fewer passive-aggressive comments around the holidays, you’ll end up being miserable.

The biggest regret that people have on their deathbed is that they lived for other people and did what they were “supposed” to do rather than what they wanted to do. They didn’t trust in their own feelings, opinions, and beliefs enough to create the life that they imagined for themselves. 

8. Not doing it 

Playing off of number seven, the next big way that people sabotage themselves is by just not doing it. By not doing it, I mean giving up altogether because you’re afraid of the outcome if you really were to go for it – whatever “it” is. It’s being so worried about what could happen, doubting your own abilities, or comparing yourself to others to the point where you throw your hands in the air and say, “F*ck it! I might as well not even try.” “I might as well not even try to open up my own massage studio because it will be terrible and no one will come and I don’t know how to start my own business anyways.”

Instead, you hold yourself back all together. This one is incredibly sad because whenever someone adopts this mindset, it’s so obvious that they don’t believe in themselves enough and they fear and comparison control their life. Their faith in themselves is so low that they don’t even bother chasing their biggest dream, or getting in shape, or trying to improve themselves. When I think of this form of self-sabotage I keep hearing Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh in my head saying, “Why bother?”

9. Not creating time

Another very subtle way that people sabotage themselves is simply not creating time for something. You may expect yourself to succeed in making life changes but you don’t designate any time or mental space to accomplish them. You say you want to write a book, but you NEVER set time aside for writing days. Or you say that you’re going to learn a new skill but you never create time in the day to practice. That’s why one of the easiest ways to get yourself to do something is not by making a to-do list or setting a goal, it’s by putting it on your calendar. We all know that one person who’s been saying that they were going to learn __(fill in the blank)___ for years, but they never actually do it. Or that one person who always says they’re going to run a half marathon, but never trains. By not creating any time to actually accomplish goals, you become that person who’s all talk and no action. 

10. Self-generating stress

This next one is very similar to setting unrealistic goals, but in this one, we purposefully stress ourselves out. It’s where you turn into a bit of a masochist and intentionally put tons of stress on yourself. Growing up, I knew plenty of people who did this. I went to schools where virtually everyone was an overachiever who took mostly AP classes, popped Adderall like candy, and wanted to get into Ivy League schools. I knew so many people who had to be taking all AP classes, and play Varsity sports and be in multiple school clubs (which they had to be the president of). I watched so many of my peers put so much stress and pressure on themselves that they lived on the edge of a nervous breakdown at all times.

The difficult thing about this form of self-sabotage is that it also can be disguised as being motivated and hard working. But the problem with this form of self-sabotage is that you’re always living in a state of stress, unhappiness and being overwhelmed. You can’t even relax and be proud of yourself for accomplishing one thing because you immediately have something else to focus on that stresses you out. It’s similar to whenever it was finals week in school and you have 6 or 7 exams to take. You get incredibly stressed out about your math exam and focus all of your energy on it the night before, but once it’s over all you have is a temporary moment of relief before you begin stressing out and panicking about your AP Psych final the next day.

The major issues that I see with this form of self-sabotage are that it makes you unhappy and sucks all of the joy and contentment out of life. You become so consumed with filling up your life with the stress that there’s no time or moment of quiet reflection and pride for your accomplishments, there’s only room for being overwhelmed. The other problem that these so-called “overachievers” fail to realize is that by constantly piling on more stress, more projects, more goals, and more meetings, it prevents you from actually doing something WELL. You may get things done, usually in a panic and in a hurry, but was it really your best work? Sure you read 10 books this week, but did you really comprehend them? 

11. Focusing on low priority tasks

The final way that we sabotage our own efforts is by working on low priority tasks and avoiding high priority tasks leaving them undone. This is another way that I personally self-sabotage. It’s kind of like when you write an entire to-do list and then do all the super easy ones first that only take two minutes, but days later you still didn’t do the most important things.

This form of self-sabotage prevents you from leveling up and doing the things that really set you apart and make you happy. The things that might not have been easy or comfortable, but create the most growth. Those items are the things that make the difference between being the person that you want to be and the person who held themselves back through self-sabotage and settled for a life that was comfortable but mediocre. 

How do you put an end to self-sabotaging behaviors? 

At this point, I’m willing to bet you found several examples of self-sabotage that you do. You might have even realized that you self-sabotage more than you realized. However, the good thing about self-sabotage is that it’s a bad habit that CAN be broken. All it takes is awareness and a little bit of time. 

You’ve read through many common examples of self-sabotage and now understand where those destructive behaviors come from, so you’ll be able to catch yourself doing them and make a change. You can decide at that moment to avoid the self-destructive and sabotaging behaviors and instead choose to operate from a place of self-love.

It won’t happen right away, and this process could take several weeks or even months to break, but I believe it can be done. It just takes making SMALL changes in behaviors. It takes noticing that you’re procrastinating filling up your gas tank and making the decision to do it right now. Or realizing that you haven’t given yourself time to finish a project and clearing up a few weekends to make it happen. You’ll start to recognize those behaviors and over time those bad habits will be replaced with ones that HELP you rather than HURT you. 

To start, I recommend identifying the areas of self-sabotage that you do and pick one thing at a time that you want to work on. Because trying to make massive changes all at once isn’t realistic and will only lead to failure. You can’t possibly break every single self-sabotaging behavior that you’ve accumulated throughout your life all at once. 

Instead, pick one small thing to work on at a time and that will help you to create larger transformations in your life. It could be any one of the things that I’ve mentioned above – like procrastination or setting unrealistic goals or perfectionism, or it could be another form of self-sabotage that you discovered about yourself like disorganization. 

Although it may be difficult to work on banishing self-sabotage over the next few months, imagine how much your life would improve if you did. Imagine how much it could help you to get the body of your dreams, build your business, learn something new, or perform better at work all because you learn to let go of those behaviors that weren’t serving you. You may not be able to go back in time and change the past and all of that information you absorbed during domestication or your self-proclaimed idea of perfection, but you could change your future.

Lastly, I recommend telling yourself that you’re worthy. We are bombarded with so many ideas about how we SHOULD be that it can be so easy to believe that we aren’t good enough. In order to completely get rid of self-sabotage, you have to address the root of the problem, otherwise, your subconscious may just get more creative with how to sabotage you. Remind yourself each and every day that you are worthy of everything that you’ve ever wanted: health, happiness, success, and love. I personally do this by picking one mantra in the morning that I repeat to myself throughout the day and that helps me to work on my self-talk and self-worth. You can choose to work on it however you want, as long as you DO address it. Your bad *ss future self will thank you.

Thank you for coming to Lost Online!

As always, let me know what you think in the comments! Did you realize find any of these forms of self-sabotage that spoke to you? Were you more guilty of self-sabotaging behaviors than you realize? Share ONE way you self-sabotage and how you’re planning on working on it over the next few weeks! Also, have you ever read, “The Four Agreements?” What are you thoughts on the book? Or was there any particular part of this post that helped you? I would love nothing more than to hear from you!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Why I’m A Golden Milk Connoisseur + My Personal Recipe

Health & Wellness

What’s golden milk? Where did golden milk come from?

Golden milk has become extremely popular in the last few years with blog after blog reposting recipes. That’s how I got hooked. About two and a half years ago I read all of the blogs about golden milk and its benefits, and decided to make it myself. You’d think that golden milk would have been something I tried in excitement from all the Pinterest hype and forgot about almost immediately, but the day I made my first recipe I was hooked. I’ve been making golden milk regularly since then as a way to help me unwind for the day and as a way to settle digestive issues and banish inflammation in my body.

So what is golden milk and why am I so jazzed up about it? Golden milk, also known as haldi doodh, is a drink that was created thousands of years ago in India and has roots in Ayurveda. If you’re unfamiliar with Ayurveda, it’s considered to be the sister science of yoga. If you’re curious about it, I highly suggest the book, “An Idiots Guide to Ayurveda,” by Sahara Rose Ketabi. She’s the one person who I learned from the most about Ayurveda through her book and her podcast, “The Highest Self Podcast.”

According to Sahara, “Ayurveda is the world’s oldest health system, stemming from ancient India more than 5,000 years ago. In fact, it’s the health system from which all others originated — Chinese, Western, and Herbology included. The Sanskrit word Ayurveda means ‘knowledge of life,’ and in order to achieve complete health, you must have knowledge of all aspects of your life. This healing system transcends the physical and combines the medical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and metaphysical, which are all interconnected. Ayurveda dives into the complex mind-body relationship and brings you back into balance…” (From The Idiots Guide to Ayurveda, Intro)

Golden milk was one of the many natural medicines of the time. However, the recipes used back then were a bit different than the sweet, Starbucks versions that we have now. I’ve been trying to learn about the original recipe, but I believe that it was once a simple mixture of turmeric and milk. But either way, this recipe that I’m going to give you today is one thing that I swear by and I’ll continue to make for many, many years to come. 

Why I’m drinking the golden Kool-Aid

Now I’m obsessed with golden milk and have passed along my recipe to several friends and family who asked for it. I absolutely love this part of my nighttime routine and for that reason, I was planning on sharing a post about golden milk months ago. Unfortunately, it kept being put off. I finally decided to create this post today after watching a very educational and informative lecture called, “A Healthcare Call to Action,” from Andrew Weil (MD) through my Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) classes.

Most of Weil’s lecture focused on the topic of inflammation and after hearing his research on inflammation in the body, I felt so motivated and inspired to pass it on to you. More than ever I believe that this simple elixir has the power to drastically improve our health short term and long term and is 110% worth the online hype. Here’s why…

As you get older, especially once you are over the age of 60, the possibility of getting serious diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease increases substantially, right? Of course, we’re all very familiar with that by now. Sadly, our culture has come to the understanding that as you get older it’s unavoidable to become seriously sick. However, Weil’s research all centered around one question: Is it inevitable that we’re going to get one or another disease as we age? Does it HAVE to happen?

Well the answer is, NO. That’s not the case. Research overwhelmingly proves that it’s possible to age healthily and prevent diseases. But how? How do you reduce the risk and delay the onset of age-related diseases? It turns out that all of these well-known, age-related diseases begin as inflammatory processes in the human body. For example, coronary artery disease begins as inflammation in the lining of the arteries which can also PRECEDE the deposition of cholesterol. According to Weil, cholesterol may even be the body’s way of attempting to patch up areas that have been damaged by inflammation.

Alzheimer’s disease is another example. Alzheimer’s begins as inflammation in the brain which is why ibuprofen has a preventative effect in Alzheimer’s Disease. This may even be why India has the lowest rate of Alzheimer’s in the world because they eat turmeric at every meal – the most potent natural anti-inflammatory agent that’s been found. Weil also shared that one of the reasons why aspirin can prevent heart attacks: it’s an anti-inflammatory agent as well as a blood-thinning agent.

Amazingly all of the worst age-related diseases we’ve become so familiar with begin as inflammation, even cancer. Why? Because anything that intensifies inflammation in the body simultaneously increases cell proliferation. This means that cells divide more frequently, which increases malignant transformation.

Now inflammation is not ALL bad. It’s actually a very healthy and necessary response that our bodies have. Inflammation is the body’s healing response, it’s how the body gets more nourishment to the area that needs it. For example, if you’ve been hurt or injured the area will swell and turn red. However, inflammation can be very powerful and in the end even dangerous. Which means it’s important that the inflammation stays where it’s supposed to stay in the body and ends where it’s supposed to end, not continue to linger once it’s served its purpose. If inflammation does persist and serve no purpose it becomes productive of disease.

The majority of Weil’s lecture centered around the fact that he believes that all these diseases have a common root which is inappropriate inflammation in the body, so anything that reduces or contains inflammation in the body is going to reduce the risk of disease.

The kind of inflammation that he worries about is low-level inflammation throughout the body which is influenced by genetics, stress, exposure to environmental toxins, but most of all DIET. The reason why this is so important to remember is that the mainstream American diet is pro-inflammatory — it’s a diet filled with fats and carbohydrates (not the good kind) and it lacks the foods that protect and heal our body like fruits, veggies, herbs, and spices. I believe that our culture is increasingly stressed out as our self worth is viewed by how productive and successful we are. Throw in our three coffees a day to keep us going and energized and we REALLY have a recipe for disaster. These issues leave us walking around with inflammation on a day to day basis, the kind that could seriously affect our health in the long term as Weil pointed out.

Anything that can help fight chronic inflammation in the body has the possibility to prevent and even treat these diseases. That’s where turmeric and my beloved golden milk comes in. 

Golden Ingredients & Benefits 

TURMERIC – Turmeric is the main ingredient in golden milk and has been used in India for thousands of years for its medicinal properties, and as I shared before, it’s the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory. Although there’s a large number of people that believe that using herbs and supplements for medical purposes is a bunch of bull, turmeric is far from make-believe. Today, science is finally able to back up why this herb is so beneficial. Turmeric contains compounds that are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin – the compound responsible for giving turmeric its anti-inflammatory properties.

Not only is it anti-inflammatory, but the curcumin compound drastically increases the antioxidant capacity of the body, it improves brain function, lowers the risk of heart disease, prevents and treats cancer, helps treat people with depression, improves digestion, relieves pain, and delays age-related chronic diseases. This one compound works like magic in our bodies. If you would like to read evidence-based articles on these claims, make sure to check out the Healthline article titled, “10 Proven Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin” or “Everything You Need to Know About Turmeric,” by Medical News Today.

PEPPER – BUT, don’t go making your golden milk just yet without the second more important ingredient: pepper. You might be thinking, “why pepper?” You wouldn’t think that this ingredient would be so necessary to the recipe, but it is. Although curcumin is wonderful for the body, it, unfortunately, is poorly absorbed in our bloodstream. In an article on Nature’s Path by Kate Barrington titled, “What’s the Deal with Golden Milk,” she shares that black pepper contains a compound called piperine that prevents the liver from metabolizing the curcumin before it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Just a pinch of black pepper can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by as much as 2,000%. Not only does it help the compound to absorb completely, but it also magnifies its benefits!

In addition to all of the benefits from turmeric, modern Golden Milk recipes include cinnamon, ginger, coconut oil, and vanilla extract or honey – all of which include their own health benefits while making the recipe absolutely delicious.

COCONUT OIL – I probably don’t need to tell you all about the health benefits of coconut oil by now which has been raved about forever for just about every ailment both internally and externally. You could use it as an all-natural body lotion, while simultaneously taking it to treat Alzheimer’s disease, reduce inflammation, treat allergies and digestion, heal cold sores, grow your hair, speed up weight loss, relieve stress, take your makeup off and MUCH more. How would life go on without coconut oil? BUT, there is one other reason why coconut oil is so important to include when you’re making golden milk, aside from its countless health benefits.

CINNAMON – According to an article from Simple India Mom called “10 Health Benefits of Cinnamon,” cinnamon is especially beneficial as it contains three special compounds, cinnamaldehyde, cinnamic acid and cinnamate which allow cinnamon to act as an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, and immune-booster while also protecting against cancer and heart disease. A separate article from Healthline titled “10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon,” shares that cinnamon also lowers blood sugar levels and protects against neurodegenerative diseases.

According to Healthline, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are characterized by progressive loss of the structure or function of brain cells. Two compounds found in cinnamon inhibit the buildup of a protein called “tau” in the brain – one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease.

GINGER – Ginger is one ingredient that I absolutely cannot live without since I’ve suffered from countless stomach bugs and digestive issues in my life. It something that I ALWAYS have stashed in case of emergency, and something that I always include in my golden milk thanks to its variety of digestive benefits. Ginger helps with just about any digestive problems and is the best home remedy for alleviating nausea. According to another article by Medical News Today titled, “Ginger: Health Benefits and Dietary Tips,” ginger can also help with cold and flu relief, reduce cholesterol and reduce pain. Ginger also contains curcumin too so it has the same benefits of turmeric including the most important one: reducing inflammation. 

HONEY or VANILLA – And lastly, no golden milk latte recipe is complete without a natural sweetener. Honey is another one of those health foods that have also been hyped up as it has dozens of medicinal and personal care uses. You can use it to treat dandruff, fade scars, prevent wrinkles, and heal razor burn while at the same time using it to treat heartburn and allergies, go to sleep, improve digestion AND of course, reduce inflammation. Vanilla extract, on the other hand, can help with heart health, anxiety, digestion, and respiratory issues. Whichever one you choose to use is completely up to you. However, if you are going to buy honey buy LOCAL honey which can help your body get used to the allergens in your area and you’ll know that you’re getting real honey. There are tons of companies selling fake honey these days! And if you’re buying vanilla extract, splurge that extra dollar or two and get the real, organic vanilla extract. 

My Thoughts 

Six ingredients later do you understand why I’m a Golden Milk Connoisseur? Not only does each one of those ingredients have separate health benefits, but each one of them also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Each of these ingredients has the potential to help you live a longer, happier, and healthier life disease-free.

I know that I may not be at risk for Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, or cancer right now, but I believe in adopting simple and healthy habits when you’re young to try to prevent things like that from even happening in the first place. 

For many bloggers across America, golden milk was a health and wellness fad that they used to get readers, clicks, and subscribers. For me, golden milk is truly one of my simple, healthy habits that I chose to adopt for my health and well-being. I want to share it with you today so that you might benefit from it too. And the beauty is that this ancient recipe has been used and agreed on for its health benefits for 5,000+ years. So why not try it? 

My Recipe

This is my person golden milk recipe. After making it more times than I can count I don’t normally measure it out and make it so carefully anymore, but if you’re new feel free to try this out and tweak it to your personal preferences. 

WARNING: Turmeric stains! Be aware that turmeric is used for dyeing clothing. Once you get it on your clothes, GOOD LUCK getting it out. Always make sure to wear clothes that you don’t care about when making this recipe and whatever you do, do NOT wear white. 

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups milk (I use pea milk or almond milk)
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • .5 teaspoon cinnamon
  • .5 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • 2 teaspoons honey or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions: 

On a stovetop in a small pot warm the milk while slowly putting in each ingredient at a time while whisking in between. This helps the ingredients to dissolve while also making the milk a little bit foamy and creamy just like a latte. If I’m making it on the stove and taking my time, I prefer to use fresh, cut up ginger and cinnamon sticks instead of the powder. However, the downside of using the stove is that the turmeric usually gets all over the pot and is a pain to scrub out.

When I make the golden milk in the microwave, I usually put the milk into a mug and heat it for one minute with the turmeric already added. I take the milk out to whisk or stir, add the other ingredients and heat up for one more minute. Then I stir or mix it again. 

My Routine

I’ve been making golden milk for the last two-plus years and I love how this recipe is incredibly powerful, while also being incredibly cheap and easy to make. Each night, it only takes me about 3 minutes to have my golden milk ready and will hopefully help to bring me a long and healthy life.

But even if golden milk didn’t have all of those benefits, I still might be making it anyways. It’s always been very hard for me to relax and wind down at night, but whenever I have my golden milk it helps me to feel better, calm down before I go to bed, relax, and drift off to sleep easier. I like to make it each night after I’ve gotten myself ready for bed and I’m about to start meditating. If you haven’t tried it yourself, I couldn’t recommend it more. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

As always let me know what you think in the comments! Have you tried golden milk? Do you like it or not like it? What’s your recipe? Have you noticed any benefits from it? And what are your thoughts on Andrew Weil’s belief that chronic age-related diseases begin as inflammatory processes in the body? Do you believe that simple lifestyle habits could actually help to change this? Or do you still believe that sickness and disease are inevitable? Whatever your thoughts, let me know! I’m so curious about what you think!

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photos by Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

I Interview Top Hair Stylist & Blogger Kourtnee Jinright (The Colour Chemist) – Hair Care, Managing Anxiety & Depression, and Following Your Passion

Beauty, Interviews, Self-Help

I’m super excited about this blog post today because I’m interviewing one of my absolute favorite people, and the HIGHLY talented hair stylist, Kourtnee Jinright.

If you know of Kourtnee already then you probably know her at “The Colour Chemist.” Three years ago I sat in her salon chair as she took me from my natural reddish-brown hair to full-blown platinum blonde. (I was going through something back then!) Since then, she’s grown so much both personally and professionally and it’s been so exciting to watch her journey!

Kourtnee is now the top stylist at a brand new salon in St. Augustine, Florida, ZA Salon, she’s a Kerastase Ambassador, and most importantly she makes a living following her passion. She’s built a following on social media channels by educating other women about hair, inspiring other women to chase their dreams and opening up about her struggle with anxiety and depression.

In a world of filters and pretend online relationships, Kourtnee is so authentic. She’s not afraid to be goofy, or vulnerable, or to share her experience. But what I love about Kourtnee more than anything is how supportive she is – how she fiercely encourages the women in her life as they try to follow their passion too. Not only is she someone I look up to, but she’s also a Lost Online reader and a friend. And when I asked her to do this interview she was over the moon!

Here are Kourtnee’s answers to my burning questions about everything from following your passion, to hair, to self-growth, and conscious technology use! I hope you enjoy!

Hair & Beauty

Q: I’ve been following you for many years now and I’ve also sat in your salon chair, so I know how you absolutely adore Kerastase and that you’re also an ambassador for Kerastase! What is it about the brand that you love? What makes you believe in the brand enough to use on your own hair and your clients?

A: I am so in love with Kerastase and its ability to transform the hair. Kerastase is known for taking your hair and giving you your goal hair. My hair was destroyed about 1 ½ years ago and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it changed my hair. It’s unbelievable. I ventured out and used other brands for 8 months on my clients’ hair and their hair drastically changed. When I told some of my clients that I was going back to Kerastase, they about died of happiness inside. It is worth every penny. I cannot sell you anything I don’t believe in, it’s not in my blood to do so.. I am an awful liar so if I’m in love with something, I really, truly mean it. I love the education Kerastase gives and how luxurious it is. It’s based in Paris, France. They are always changing the technology and revamping their brand to be the best of the best at ALL times. My goal is to teach with Kerastase. What a dream! 🙂

Q: Most women I know would kill to have long, thick, gorgeous hair – BUT most of us have also made the mistake of damaging it through improper hair care and dying. What’s your advice for people trying to grow hair out and improve the health of their hair?

A: The best advice I can give you is to be on a proper hair care regiment. I cannot stress enough how important this is for everyone. While a lot of products may feel great on the outside, it can actually cause buildup on the inside and you’ll remain stagnant. If you are trying to grow out your hair, I recommend the Kerastase’ Extensioniste line to improve the health and length. If you’re in need to seek more information, please DM me through Instagram at @thecolourchemist.

Q: How do you keep your hair healthy? Do you use any special products, supplements, or care practices? 

A: Keeping your hair healthy is the same as keeping your skin or body healthy. I have found that Kerastase products help almost every issue. Vitamins are always a go-to, however eating healthy/staying active ensures that your hair is growing at the appropriate rate. One thing I have clients say is, “I know I need a haircut, but I want it to grow longer so I’ll pass on it today.” Did you know by doing that your split ends will grow up the shaft and create more damage to your hair? In the long run, you’ll have to cut off more hair because of this. I understand no one WANTS to cut their hair when they’re growing it out, but trust me that this method WORKS.

Q: What do you suggest for split end remedies?

A: Split ends are a nightmare, right? We all have them after a while. I recommend getting a haircut every 4-8 weeks depending on the haircut you have now. If you put any heat on your hair, I would suggest on getting my favorite heat protection from Kerastase which is Serum Therapiste. This dual pump not only give you 450 degree heat protection, but also is a repair serum. It has plant stem cells to resurrect the hair back to its natural state over time. If you do not put heat on your hair, try using the Ciment Thermique from Kerastase. Say goodbye to spit ends with their number one product! 

Q: What hair trends do you think we’ll be seeing this coming season?

A: The shag is in as of right now, a lot of ‘lived in’ looks are coming back. People are wanting more of a natural look with low maintenance. Texture is another thing that everyone is searching for. Extensions are also HUGE right now. It’s a vibe, let me tell you. 😉

Following Your Passion

Q: I wanted to say congratulations on becoming the TOP STYLIST at Za Salon! I’ve seen you come so far over the last few years and grow so much in your career! I’ve been watching all of your videos about the salon opening and it’s been really cool to be able to see the process of setting up the space and promoting it. I can tell you’re incredibly passionate about it. I’m curious, what makes Za Salon special? What sets it apart from the experience you’d have at another salon?

A: Thank you so much! I appreciate the kind words. 🙂 When you walk into Za Salon you will enter a luxurious space. You will be offered champagne, wine, french press Kookaburra coffee, tea, water, or beer. We go above and beyond to make sure that your experience is like nothing you’ve ever had. We also have snacks followed along with a cold hand towel with essential oils to cool you off with this Florida heat. While our associates are giving you a nice massage on your scalp, you will also be offered a complimentary hand massage. This salon has a lot of great energy and it is very calm. The owner of Za Salon is Patty Meradith and I can confidently say hands down say she has built the number 1 salon in St. Augustine. The opportunity that she gives us on education to expand our horizons is out of this world. I am so thankful that Patty offered me the position as well as giving me windows of growth. She is also a barber which is badass!

Q: Did you always know you wanted to be a hairstylist?

A: I NEVER thought in a million years that I would be a hairstylist. I got out of high school and knew that college wasn’t for me. I needed to do something that didn’t require too much schooling. My dad made the suggestion and I remember looking at him with an appalled look. My answer was, ‘I REFUSE to work at hair cuttery!’ My dad looked at me and chuckled. He was like, ‘Kourtnee, you can work in a salon…’ My dad raised me and I was LUCKY if I got conditioner. I would receive suave and get a haircut twice a year so I didn’t know what else was out there. I went to cosmetology school knowing that this is a smart backup plan if I didn’t love it. Turns out it’s my passion! I’m so grateful that my dad had said something to me when he did or I wouldn’t have found an interest in it. The universe works in mysterious ways. 

Q: Did you receive support from friends and family in the beginning? Or did you feel pressure to prove that you could be successful in a creative industry?

A: When I first started, I didn’t want to practice on any of my friends because I knew their cuts/color wouldn’t be perfect. I didn’t want to ruin my reputation. It took me an hour just to shave my father’s hair. I was so nervous and insecure at the time. St. Augustine is a small town and I was always worried/felt pressure that people would write bad reviews about me. However, I am human and still to this day I make mistakes. Every day is another day full of growth and opportunity. If you make a mistake, take that as a lesson and try harder next time. 

Q: What was the biggest challenge that you faced pursuing this career?

A: My biggest challenge in this career was figuring out where my route was. I knew with being a hairstylist, this would come with a lot of fear and growth. About a year ago, I was in a dark place. I was in a situation where I wasn’t being heard, and I was at a standstill with my growth. I was being held back while being taken advantage of. I made the decision to go from a salon that was commission to booth rental. Being in a salon, you’re an employee and the owner is in control of color, products, your schedule, pricing,  etc. Being in booth rental, you are your own boss. While this might seem super cool, this was actually TERRIFYING. I had NO idea what direction to go to but I had no other choice but to think quick, make moves, and do what was best for not only my clients, but for ME. I was my own boss for about 8 months and even though it was GREAT, I found that I lost motivation. I recommend that if you’re someone who needs accountability, then being in a salon is meant for you. If you are okay being solo, then booth rental is a great option. Either way there is no wrong route. It’s just finding what brings out the best in you. I am finally at a point in my career where I have all the growth that I could ask for. This challenge made me the stylist I am today. 

Photos by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier.

Q: What’s your advice for women/men who want to go into hair?

A: My advice going into hair school would be to go in with an open mind. Focus solely on JUST what you went to school for. Do not feed into the drama, do not take things personally, you WILL mess up but just focus. You can get so wrapped up in what others say and think of you and it’s NOT worth it. Have patience and know that you will learn everything you need to know when you are finished with cosmetology school. I had girls that were very rude to me and  I look back at it now and laugh. They aren’t even in the industry anymore. So just remember if something like that comes around, go back to the mindset of why you are there. 

Q: I saw that this past year you started a blog as well! What inspired you to start your blog and put your knowledge and experience about hair and fashion into writing?

A: I started a blog because I wanted to reach out to other people around the world than just St. Augustine. Once I feel myself getting bored, I’m onto another idea. This was so great, however I am at a pause with blogging at the moment because I’m transitioning into a new salon and moving forward with Kerastase. My girlfriend is an amazing writer and speaker. She motivated me to write out all the things that I am passionate about. She gave me great advice on how to move forward with it. She has always told me that I would reach so many other stylists/guests if I wrote it down and she was right. I am not the best writer, but every day I am trying my best for it to become a strength. I wanted the blog to not only be about hair, but to include fashion and lifestyle. 

Q: How do you stay inspired to create almost every single day? Creating every single day seems like it could get overwhelming from time to time. 

A: Being a hairdresser has its pros and cons for sure. I work four full days a week now because I found that if decompress in those three days, I can give my 100% to each and every client that comes through the door. It’s not easy when you have 4-12 clients a day coming in with different energy while still trying to maintain your own. I can for the most part leave work at work, but sometimes when your clients go through tough times you feel for them. Sometimes it comes home with you. I balance all of this out with self care. I go to therapy, I do yoga, I read, write, eat healthy, spend time alone, rest, spend time with loved ones, and meditate. This isn’t just a job where you do hair. This requires every ounce of energy that you have. Once your tank is on empty, you have to fill it back up with your self care. Some stylists can go and work 6 days a week and that’s great! For me, being an introvert/extrovert… I have to decompress a little more than others and that is OKAY! I’m perfectly okay knowing that my mental health is more important than the money. 

Q: One of the reasons why I absolutely love to follow you is because all of the hilarious memes you share about the perspective of hair stylists! It’s actually been very eye opening and showed me some of the dumb things that we say to stylists without even realizing it. If there’s anything that you wish you could tell your clients completely unfiltered, what would it be?

A: I love memes! Meme culture can reach all different age groups which I love! It’s a good way to have content and it’s totally relatable. I wanted to post memes on the regular because I feel that it’s not all serious. We want you to know that we understand your struggles too! There are a few things that us hairstylists wish we could say, but sometimes people might take it the wrong way. When we don’t talk, it’s not because we don’t want to… it’s because your head naturally moves a lot while talking. This makes it harder for us to foil/cut/ install extensions. 

Self-Growth

Q: As a fellow self-growth and self-improvement junkie (: what practices have you incorporated in your life that have helped you with personal development and accomplishing your goals?

A: I noticed that I cut out all the people who didn’t help me grow. It was a really tough thing to do and it may sound harsh but the people I cut out, didn’t do anything for me. They were in my way and taking time out of my life that I just didn’t want to entertain anymore. I had to overcome some fears. Another couple of things that I have done are waking up earlier in the morning to clean a little and get a fresh start to my day. I have weekly workout routines, I got a planner, I go outside my comfort zone, always challenging myself, I have been listening more, doing the hobbies that I love to do. I talk and write to myself A LOT.

Q: What got you interested in self-growth and self-improvement?

A: I knew that I couldn’t love someone else until I loved myself. That struck me instantly and made me change as an individual. I loved my partner so much that I had to let go and grow. So I started to incorporate yoga into my self growth. My yoga teacher told me to bring my hands into a lotus pose. She told me that lotus flowers start off in a dark place. They live in murky water but they eventually blossom from the muddy waters. Now, I am at a place that I can confidently say that I love myself. I feel like a lotus flower is a perfect example of self growth. Everyday we grow and improve. We are all evolving and changing and that’s the most beautiful thing. 

Q: Do you have any books, blogs, or podcasts that inspired change in your life?

A: I love the book, ‘The Secret’. This is also on Netflix and I highly suggest for everyone to read/watch it. It’s about the law of attraction. I watched it over and over again. I was so impressed by these professors and what they had to say. They really know the secret of life. 

Managing Anxiety & Depression

Q: I’ve noticed through following you for several years now that you’ve been very vocal on social media about your experience with anxiety and depression. What made you want to share your experience with your followers?

A: I didn’t want to be open about my anxiety/depression for a long time because I didn’t want people to ‘pity’ me. I decided to move forward and take this anxiety and turn it into a positive outlook. I understand the struggle of not wanting to get out bed, not knowing where to start, feeling like you can’t breathe or feeling alone. You’re not alone. That is why I wanted to reach out to people. I am not a therapist, but I am an individual telling you that you are capable of doing anything you want to do. Your anxiety will not take that away from you. You can change your life and it is NEVER too late. 

Q: What have you learned throughout your struggles with depression and anxiety that you wish you could tell your younger self?

A: I was medicated for a long time. I wish I could have told myself to try out yoga before I hit the age of 21. Life would have been maybe easier but then again, I can look back on everything and say that I made it through the worst and came out stronger. 

Q: I know that you’ve talked about this on your own platforms, but could you share for Lost Online readers how you’ve managed to treat your anxiety and depression? 

A: I actually wrote a blog post about this on thecolourchemist.com! The truth is, you can never get rid of anxiety completely, but what you can do is CONTROL it. Our minds really do play a huge role in this. For me, I noticed my anxiety wasn’t at its highest peak when I started to eat healthier. I started to juice, go to therapy, do yoga, focus on my breathing, read, journal, scrapbook, go to the beach, and cut out all the people who didn’t bring me joy. I do all the things that I love to do with a mix of being the best version of myself.

Q: You’ve spoken a lot about yoga and how it’s helped you with mental and physical health. What got you started practicing yoga and what benefits have you seen with regular practice?

A: I took about 8 classes and I found the ONE teacher whose energy stuck out to me. I feel so comfortable with her that I now take private lessons in my own home. She is always challenging me and pushes me to be better. Doing yoga has not only helped me release mentally, but also physically. With being a hairdresser, you stand on your feet in the same position for hours. I have noticed a difference in my concentration being sharper, creating calmness, and being more aware of my surroundings. Yoga has also helped my balance TREMENDOUSLY, helps you sleep deeper, it helps falls with elderly people, increases blood flow, helps posture, helps your hips to create better alignment, makes you a better person, etc. The list can go on about how amazing yoga is for you. 

Online 

Q: At the very end of my interviews, I like to touch a bit on technology and social media since it’s such a big part of our lives and something that the vast majority of us struggle with today. With our heavy social media and technology use today, have you ever felt pressure for likes, engagement, or recognition online? What has your experience been? 

A: In the beginning I was like, “Oh my god, I don’t have 10k. How will I ever have someone notice me?” All it takes is one post, one person to notice you. The rest is history. Have faith and speak everything into existence. You can have 200 followers and if you have a great engagement with those 200 followers, you’re doing it right. The amount of followers does not define you. However, I do put in some serious work with social media. If someone finds me one day, my page has to look clean, professional, and have character. I’m constantly trying new techniques with hair, posting new trends, taking pictures in different areas to switch it up the look, talking about product, taking videos and making them stand out. I’m always hashtagging each post and sometimes I will write about topics that people have questions about. When I am off the clock at work, I am working on social media. Social media is WORK but it is free advertising so use it wisely. 

Q: A major theme throughout my blog is how we stay sane during a time when we spend half of our time consumed with technology. What do you do to create balance in your life when we spend so much time online now?

A: Social media can take up a huge chunk of time in your everyday life. People see me on my phone and half the time I am working and not really socializing. I sometimes have to step back and give myself a break with this. It can consume your life really fast. I started to not use my phone the first 30 minutes when I wake up and the last 30 minutes before I go to bed. These times are when you are the most creative. It doesn’t always happen but I try my best to stick to this routine. 

Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Photo Ray Reyes @rocketsciencephoto.

Do you see why I love Kourtnee now? I have to admit, this interview was more for me than it was for my readers. I wanted nothing more than to interview someone who inspired me each and every day.

I’ve loved being Kourtnee’s friend and follower because she’s such an inspiration and is always so positive despite anything that she may be going through. She opens up about the challenges in her life and always takes a positive and healthy approach, viewing every roadblock or rough period as an opportunity for growth. And above all, Kourtnee goes after what makes her passionate in life and continues to flourish as a hairstylist. 

I hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did! Make sure to check out Kourtnee on her personal Instagram @kourtneemichelle or her professional Instagram account @thecolourchemist. You can also find her on her website thecolourchemist.com where she share’s blogs about hair care, lifestyle, and another passion of hers, fashion.

Lastly, if you’re in Saint Augustine, Florida area and would like Kourtnee to work her magic on your hair, make sure to give Za Salon at call and book your appointment!

As always remember to comment your thoughts below. I LOVE hearing what my readers think about the content. What stood out the most to you about the interview? Did you resonate with anything Kourtnee said? If you could ask her anything, what would you ask?

If you like what you read here, remember to go down to the bottom of the page, click that”+” symbol, and type in your email where it says “follow blog via email.” You’ll have all future blog posts sent right to you! Thanks for coming to Lost Online!

Several of Kourtnee’s photos shown in this post were taken by Autumn Dozier @autumn.dozier. Hair photos are taken by Kourtnee herself. If I forgot to mention any other photographer, please contact me so I can give you credit!